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COVID-19 forces Tech Trek 2020 change of plans

AAUW Tech Trek C.O. 2020

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --  Kathi Dew, Leadership Team Chair of the Tech Trek Central Oregon STEM camp project, announced Tuesday that due to the coronavirus, AAUW has canceled the camp for 2020.

The STEM Camp, held at OSU-Cascades Campus, has been sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for the last three years, along with the AAUW of Oregon Special Projects Fund.

Tech Trek Central Oregon is a STEM camp for current seventh-grade girls in Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties, which has been offered for three previous years.

The plan, going forward, is to continue to serve those 48 girls who were selected this year along with the group selected next year, for a single larger camp with girls of two grade levels.

There was great interest among the girls and families, and interviewers had to narrow the girls down to the 48 finally selected.  The staff and planners believe they can provide a quality camp for about 70 girls in 2021. 

 “We have sketched out some pieces in committee, already, to handle the higher number and different grade levels, while keeping the hands-on aspect high and the groups integrated and small,” says Dew.  The girls may be separated into smaller groups for some field trips and activities.  More detailed planning is to follow later this year.

The planning committee and, most importantly, camp staff have already committed to make the larger, combined 2021 camp happen.  The director, Stephanie Morrison, an amazing science teacher at High Desert Middle School, and a track coach there.

The core teachers, are licensed Bend-La Pine and Jefferson County teachers, the camp nurse and head counselor are licensed and experienced.  College-age student counselors also help the girls navigate the college setting.  Some staff additions will be made, in order to keep the classroom and workshop numbers at a constant about 18 girls or less. 

A number of grant proposals have been submitted for the 2020 camp.  Those grantors and donors have been contacted, and updated.  We have 14 girls from Bend, 12 from Redmond, 6 from Crook County, 10 from Jefferson County and 6 from So. Deschutes County on our list for the older group of campers next June. 

 AAUW would love to be able to carry over donations to sustain that 2020 camp group fully funded, only requiring additional fund raising for the additional 7th grade class only for the 2021 camp, though both will run together.  The 48 girls from this year’s list are guaranteed spots, and available spots  will be filled with the new camp 7th grade group, toward that 70 girls total.  This camp has huge benefit for these middle school girls, leading many into potential STEM advanced study and careers.  Camp is scheduled June 20-25, 2021 at OSU- Cascades Campus in Bend.

The purposes of the camp include supporting girls who enjoy science and math, introducing them to other potential STEM careers they may not have thought of, allowing like-minded girls to interact with each other and support each other, to exchange ideas with STEM professional women role models, and to “see” themselves on college campuses, then making a living wage in their futures.

OSU-Cascades will give the campers a picture of campus life on a growing campus.  It is a college in transition, experiencing a growth spurt, yet is not daunting to the younger students.  Through the Open Campus /Extension services, OSU-Cascades has a presence in each of our counties.

This is an academic camp, with ample opportunities for both learning and fun.  Each year, the girls fill out pre- and post-surveys, which help the committee with workshop choices and CORE classes.  The CORE classes, App Creation, Engineering, and Neuro Science, are already scheduled with experienced instructors for each.  Also in the plan\, are field experiences in geology, forestry, water study, and a Science Night with partnering business, Lonza, (formerly Bend Research).  

The committee expects to offer workshops in such areas as plant propagation, medical specialties, geology, more computer-based experiences, personal finance, journaling, water science, photography, and many others.   If you are a STEM professional wanting to offer a workshop, or a potential sponsor, please contact Kathi Dew, for more information at:

For girls and families interested in the camp, new dates of the Tech Trek Central Oregon camp, are June 20-25, 2021.  The applications will be in public schools across Central Oregon in January, with interviews starting in February, in each community.  With the help of grants, donations and sponsorships, we charge only $50 to the family for participation.  Interested seventh grade girls should talk with their school Principal, Science, Math, or Technology teacher about the application process, in early January. 

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