America’s ability to meet the demands of the energy future depends on having a trained, passionate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. With this national need in mind, over 30 organizations and 100 federal employees braved icy rain to attend the First Annual Interagency STEM Volunteer Fair last week at the Department of Energy.
At the Fair, organizations presented opportunities for federal employees to become mentors, classroom assistants, facilitators, coaches, and role models. Asian American LEAD recruited volunteers for mentoring and leadership training. FIRST connected with feds who will be engaging students through regional tournaments and competitions. BEST Kids found supporters for mentoring foster care youth in the District of Columbia. The National Girls Collaborative Project signed up role models for its national online directory. These examples are only a handful of the options government employees have to engage and mentor students in STEM.
President Obama is calling on federal scientists and engineers to identify and pursue STEM-related volunteer activities in their communities, with an emphasis on broadly inclusive activities that draw from all segments of society. Women and minorities are 70 percent of college graduates, but only 45 percent of STEM degree holders – leaving a large pool of talented professionals out. As the nation’s demographics shift to a majority-minority country, it is critical that we close these participation gaps.
If you’re interested in volunteering to help a STEM organization or school, use the zip code search feature of www.serve.gov and take advantage of resources like the downloadable STEM Mentoring Toolkit. We all have a role to serve in building America's future STEM workforce.