By CSO Christy C. – Michigan
The youth in the Great Lakes Bay Region (GLBR) don’t just wait around hoping someone comes along to put on STEM-focused events and impact their community in unique, innovative ways; instead, they’re taking matters into their own hands in the most positive ways possible.
The Chief Science Officers (CSO) program, a world-wide initiative that draws middle and high school students to leadership in STEM, encourages students to do just that through leadership training, preparing youth to lead an event or project, and interactions with STEM professionals in the region. The program encourages youth to actively promote STEM in their schools and communities through an action plan consisting of an event or project that expands the impact of STEM in some capacity.
Examples of these youth-led action plans include career nights, clubs, professional panels, field trips, informational STEM-themed announcements, advocating for more sustainable practices in schools, and more. Each school that participates in the CSO program receives a grant to assist with the financial aspects of putting on an event which educates CSOs on how to budget and creatively use resources. In addition to budgeting and coordinating professional events, CSOs gain knowledge about communication, leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving.
Before a CSO can begin organizing their action plan, they are required to attend a regional Leadership Training Institute (LTI). On August 8th and 9th of this year, CSOs from the Great Lakes Bay Region attended the LTI at Saginaw Valley State University. CSOs participated in sessions that taught them about action planning, networking with professionals, sharing their vision, teaching others through hands-on STEM demonstrations, and more. CSOs who have successfully been in the program for at least a year had the opportunity to “level up” and challenge themselves to make a bigger impact in a Level II session.
All of the sessions at LTI were led by experienced CSOs who participate on the Leadership Council for the Great Lakes Bay Region, further highlighting how youth can effectively educate peers in their communities. This year, the GLBR CSOs experienced a new addition to LTI with a career and communication session, organized by the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, that enriched the knowledge of career resources in the region.
Through interactions with other CSOs and STEM professionals during LTI, CSOs have the opportunity to share new knowledge with their communities. Be sure to follow us on social media and see the STEM-azing ideas and action plans CSOs in your community implement over the next few months!