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Women In Marine Science Camp Inspires Budding Biologists

By Lauren McDonald The Brunswick News, Ga.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A camp in Georgia is inspiring girls to explore science. 23 young women from around the country came to Skidaway Island, Georgia for the program last week. Mare Timmons, one of the camp's organizers says school settings don't always promote an interest in STEM fields for young women as well as this kind of camp can.

The Brunswick News, Ga.

A group of young women had their eyes opened to the possibilities of a career in marine biology at a camp hosted last week on Skidaway Island.

The University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant offered a Women in Marine Science camp for students ages 12 to 15. The camp is designed for female students with an interest in marine science.

Throughout the week, campers had the chance to go on a dolphin-watching tour, explore barrier islands, complete dissections and meet women working in marine biology.

Scientists from Brunswick's station of the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant lead several of the activities.

Katy Smith, a water quality program coordinator in Brunswick, gave a presentation on the work she does and discussed the negative effects of marine debris.

"(The campers) were very engaged," Smith said. "We did a little water filtration demonstration on wastewater treatment processes."

She said her presentation not only gave the campers knowledge they need to be responsible environmental stewards, but it also allowed them to hear from a woman working in marine biology.

"It's so fun for me to inspire young women," she said.

Madeleine Russell, local government outreach coordinator at the Brunswick station, taught the campers about sand dunes, salt marsh barriers and other elements of the Georgia coast.

She took the campers out on the beach one day and had them use objects there to build a model of Tybee Island and Cumberland Island.

This activity not only showcased the beach habitat but also educated the campers on how flooding affects coastal communities, Russell said.

And the Brunswick station workers enjoyed the camp so much they stayed just to lend a hand and spend more time getting to know the campers.

"It was an interesting camp, and we're all going to do it again," she said.

Smith's own interest in marine biology was sparked during a beach trip when she was young.

"My earliest memory of my love of marine environment was a trip my family took to the Bahamas," she said. "I just remember the rainbow colors and the total diversity on the ocean floor. It really amazing me, and I was always interested in science from then on."

Marine biologist Mare Timmons, one of the camp's organizers, said 23 young women came to Skidaway Island for the camp from around the country.

She said the school setting doesn't always promote an interest in STEM fields for young women as well as this kind of camp can.

"Away from the school setting, they've got a lot of energy and good ideas," she said.

And Skidaway Island is an ideal place to host the camp, Timmons said, as the education center there can offer all the equipment and tools needed to give the campers a hands-on experience.

"The original idea is that we've got young gals that may be interested in these careers and don't have a taste for science yet," she said.

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