In its 24th year, the camp has seen nearly 20% of attendees go on to pursue careers in science and engineering, with some returning to the program this year to be camp counselors
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 25, 2015) – The University of South Florida’s Oceanography Camp for Girls (OCG), which starts this week and runs through July 10, is a three-week summer education program for young ladies who are about to enter high school. The 24 year old program, offered at no cost, encourages young ladies’ pursuit of technical careers in science and engineering through hands-on, practical experience in both laboratory and field environments and by providing one-to-one mentoring between the attendees and scientifically accomplished women.
Attendees get to spend time aboard a research vessel to collect real-time data at sea, go on field trips and take part in practical laboratory research.
This year several former camp attendees are returning to mentor students.
Even before the focus on “STEM” was such a high profile topic, the OCG was promoting young women towards technical fields. To date, nearly 20% of OCG alumni have pursued science and engineering related degrees in college.
Measureable Results: All OCG attendees are invited back to campus for two reunions a year. Post-program evaluations and career surveys indicate the program has improved the retention of girls in science, and further that several girls are now considering careers in science.
- 95% reported that participation increased their interest in science and confidence in their ability to succeed in science class
- 85% planned to take more science and math courses than they did before attending camp
- 100% gained an increased understanding of the research process
- 95% understand the course requirements for majoring in science
- 70% reported a greater than 50% chance that they would like to become a scientist/engineer
- 100% would participate in a similar project, given the opportunity
- 100% would recommend this program to others interested in science, engineering or math
- 65% would like to pursue an advanced degree in college, e.g., M.S. or Ph.D.
- Students contributed over 2,250 environmental service hours during camp reunions
Among the many attendees of OCG that have went on to pursue STEM related careers are Jessica Cross, Lauren Wetzell, Annie Dowling, and Kelly Vasbinder. Dowling and Vasbinder will be working as OCG Science Mentors this year.
Cross earned a Doctorate in Chemical Oceanography from the University of Alaska in 2013 and has been working as a Postdoc studying ocean acidification. She works jointly with the Ocean Acidification Research Center (OARC) and the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory using cutting-edge technologies to perform research in areas including the Bering Sea, an important US commercial fishery.
Wetzell, earned a master’s degree in marine science and went on to lead an OCG-like program in American Samoa and produce educational videos. She is also a past Science Mentor for OCG.
Dowling completed her master’s degree in marine science at UNC and is currently working as a Fisheries Biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission in St. Petersburg. She is returning for a second year as a graduate level Science Mentor for OCG.
Vasbinder is an incoming PhD candidate at the USF College of Marine Science. She was a NOAA Hollings Scholar who graduated Summa Cum Laude as an FSU Garnet and Gold Scholar. She is also the recipient of the USF Presidential Doctoral Fellowship. Vasbinder will be a graduate level Science Mentor for OCG this year.