Idaho National Laboratory invests in educational outreach for Idaho small towns
OROFINO, Idaho — Idaho National Laboratory in southeast Idaho values the importance of investing in youth within Idaho communities so they can succeed in their educational and
Last year, INL partnered with the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy (IDYCA) at Orofino School District and it was the organization’s highlight of the year. INL educators came home inspired by the engagement and interaction with students and their enthusiastic interest in potential careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
INL employees will return to this year’s event on Wednesday, April 25, to encourage more of Idaho’s future leaders through hands-on STEM activities. Participants will build their own structures to withstand an earthquake in an engineering design challenge. They will also learn about STEM career pathways and high-demand jobs at INL.
IDYCA is a volunteer program for 16- to 18-year-old teens at risk of dropping out of high school, or who have already dropped out. The state-run program is open to all students, without regard to race, gender, religious affiliation or household income.The program’s goal is to give youth a second chance to become responsible and productive citizens by helping them improve their life skills, education levels and employment potential. It incorporates a highly structured format – with an emphasis on student discipline and personal responsibility – to provide a positive, safe and secure learning environment.
“We are excited to return and highlight opportunities students would have never known about or considered before,” said Anne Seifert, INL’s manager of K-12 STEM outreach. “When we provide an experience complete with STEM education and information on career opportunities, we are building their confidence, helping them see value in what they are learning, and reinforcing the bright future that is in store for each one of these teens.”
“I grew up in Orofino, and my 1985 classmates and I were quite fortunate,” said Amy Lientz, INL Partnerships director, who went on to get STEM degrees at Boise State University and University of Idaho. “We had a community and teachers that exposed us to science and engineering careers and believed in our potential. What we find today is that our small towns do not necessarily understand all the high-tech jobs that exist in our state, and we want to change that.”
Other STEM outreach opportunities will be offered to northern Idaho students throughout the week, including Engineering Encounters Workshops at Nezperce Junior-Senior High School and a booth at the University of Idaho’s Annual Engineering Design Expo, where Lientz and other INL employees will serve as engineering competition judges.