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Jadyn Agee, left, an exercise science major, and Mikaela Sorensen, a dental hygiene major, help unpack equipment in the new Duane W. Acklie Hall at Nebraska Wesleyan University before it opened in January.

It’s a career path where jobs are growing at 17% compared with other occupations’ 9.8% growth rate.

The workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy.

And, the U.S. Department of Commerce says, the degree holders have a higher income even if they work in a different career.

It’s STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Initiatives to increase the roles of women and minorities in STEM-related fields will include this summer’s Explorations in Biology High School STEM Camp at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln led by biology professor Angela McKinney.

McKinney last summer led an intensive summer research program for students. It was sponsored by Nebraska’s EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research).

She said her students in the program flourished, gaining confidence in their ability in a laboratory setting, learning valuable research skills, improving their critical thinking skills, making conclusions based on scientific literature and what they were doing in the laboratory, and developing experience in presenting their findings to others.

The students’ post-experience comments expressed their joy in their achievements.

This summer’s camp also will be sponsored by Nebraska’s EPSCoR. EPSCoR was created by Congress in 1979 and it aims to strengthen STEM research and education capacity and infrastructure in states that have historically received a disproportionately low amount of federal research dollars.

McKinney is absolutely thrilled to be leading this summer camp. The three-day camp, June 17-19, is seeking up to 14 high school students. “Students of racial and ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented in STEM careers are targeted, but the camp is not limited to them,” she said.

McKinney encourages current high school sophomores and juniors to apply. No prior background or experience in STEM is required, and there is no cost for those attending the camp. They will stay in residential halls and enjoy meals in the campus dining room.

“Students just need a willingness to explore and learn more about the fascinating field of biology,” she said. “The technical skills gained will serve students both in the classroom and beyond!”

The students will engage in college preparedness workshops with an emphasis on STEM. They will have an opportunity to engage in academic and social activities with current college undergrad mentors. They will have hands-on laboratory experiences led by Wesleyan biology faculty members.

Another exciting aspect of this program is that the students will have their research and classroom experiences in the beautiful, recently opened Duane W. Acklie Hall, home to the university’s biology, chemistry and psychology programs. It is Wesleyan’s first new academic building in 36 years. Acklie served as Crete Carriers’ CEO from 1971 to 1991 and served as chairman until he died last September.

The Commerce Department says STEM workers help drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas and new companies. For example, workers who study or are employed in these fields are more likely to apply for, receive and commercialize patents.

There are many benefits to those who are STEM degree holders.

To register your child for the camp, call Nicole Bushboom with EPSCoR at 402-472-8942. The deadline for registration is May 15.

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