«The 1991 study Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America, researched and published by the AAUW Educational Foundation (as well as studies from other ...»
...from the beginning
Collected and written by Nancy Andren and Carol Holzgrafe with help from the excellent memories of many others
Since 1998 more than
9,000 girls have attended
one of our 10 camps.
The 1991 study Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America, researched and published by the
AAUW Educational Foundation (as well as studies from other sources) indicated that young
women tended to drop out of science and math courses during the middle school years.
In early adolescence, the research found, a focus on social acceptance begins to trump academic interests and achievement for many girls, even those who have previously been good and enthusi- astic students.
AAUW CA decided to do something to stop this trend. That something was the Tech Trek Science and Math Camp for Girls, an idea conceived by AAUW CA Program Director Marie Wolbach (Palo Alto, San Carlos) and encouraged by State President Karen Manelis (Fresno, Davis). The state board voted, in 1996, to apply for an EF Community Action Grant to establish such a camp. Ma- rie, Karen and Fay Weber (Whittier) wrote the application for and received the $5,000 grant from AAUW National to hold a residential science and math camp. The Morgan Family Foundation offered additional support beginning in 1999.
Because the grant required that the money be spent by June 1998, planning began in October 1997.
San Francisco State University was listed as the potential site for a camp but was changed to Stan- ford by the time real planning started. Officers on the 1996–1997 State Board are listed at the end of this document.
Based on the studies, AAUW CA targeted girls entering the 8th grade as the age best able to bene- fit from such an experience.
The goals set for Tech Trek Science Camp for Girls were to:
1. Encourage a diverse group of young women entering eighth grade to take math and science courses each year throughout high school.
2. Motivate students to attend college.
3. Inspire young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).
Stanford Despite some doubt that the idea would catch on and succeed in such a short time, branches quick- ly indicated plans to support a girl at camp. A total of 151 girls from 134 branches from all over the state spent from Sunday afternoon to Friday noon on the Stanford campus and experienced learning about math and science from dedicated teachers and volunteers. Branches not only raised money to send the girls to camp but also raised enough money to provide for transportation, since their girls had to be escorted to the camp—often from long distances. The 1998 charge per camper was $350; the field trip was to the San Francisco Exploratorium.
Starting in 2001 all camps began on Sunday afternoon and ended on Saturday morning.
Marie, withhelp from teachers Colleen Briner-Schmidt (Thousand Oaks), Marjorie Gray (Los Altos/ Mountain View) and other friends, planned the original camp and directed the camp from 1998 through 2004. (A more complete list of early planners can be found at the end of this document.) In 2005, Carol Holzgrafe (Chico, Paradise, Morgan Hill) took over the Stanford camp as director with Barbara Palmer (Morgan Hill) as assistant director. When Stanford expanded to two weeks in 2008, Carol and Barbara continued with Camp Curie (named for Marie Curie) and directed through 2011.
As mentioned above, Stanford expanded to two weeks in 2008. Lynn Rapp (San Carlos) and Sally Altman (Roseville/South Placer) took on the task of directing Camp Hopper, named for computer pioneer Grace Hopper. Lynn had to retire before camp in 2010 and Marie Wolbach stepped in to make sure the camp was a success. 2011 saw Marie and Melinda Moir (Santa Rosa) as co-directors for Camp Hopper with Melinda and Maureen Buchner (San Mateo) taking over in 2012.
CSU Fresno and UC San Diego One requirement of the original EF grant was that the camps could be replicated. Karen Manelis and Jo Moss (Carlsbad-Oceanside-Vista) took advantage of this enticement and, just one year later—in 1999—started Fresno and San Diego Tech Trek camps. Karen directed Fresno until 2008 when she moved out of state. Jo Moss directed San Diego through 2007. Both women paved the way for the successful Tech Trek camps still held at those locations.
Sandy DiSario (Palm Springs) was on-campus director for San Diego in 2007. Then two long-time staff members there took over for 2009. Again, it was a teacher and a dorm mom who stepped up.
Virginia Seaton (Simi Valley) and Anne Les (Livermore/Pleasanton/Dublin) ably led San Diego Tech Trek for three years. Virginia has continued with Rozanne Child (Alhambra) as co-director for 2011, 2012 and the foreseeable future.
When Karen Manelis moved out of state, a teacher and a dorm mom from Fresno Tech Trek took over as co-directors. Ann Wimer (Fresno) and Cathy Trevino (Bakersfield) led Fresno camp from 2008 through 2010. Cathy directed Fresno Tech Trek alone in 2011. 2012 found a former camper, Cassie Resendez, as co-director at Fresno with Rebecca Jennings as her co-director. Rebecca has been on the staff at Fresno for many years. She and Cassie will continue the great work done at that camp; having young staff members (especially directors) gives a healthy boost to the energy of any camp. It is quite gratifying to see former campers return to care for the camps.
Tech Trek continued with three camps though the number of scholarships created by the branches grew. By 2001, it was clear that additional camps were needed; thus began the fourth camp, at Mills College in Northern California, and the fifth, at Whittier College in Southern California.
Mills/Sonoma Nancy Fohner (Gilroy) opened Mills as director. She had been involved with Tech Trek since her daughter attended the first camp at Stanford in 1998. Nancy not only directed Mills camp in 2001, she came to Stanford to teach the very next week as she had done each year since 1999—and continues to do.
Mills was led by three directors in three years: the second was Valarie Burgess (OML) in 2002; the third, Nancy Andren (Big Bear Lake) from 2003–2005. Kim Watkins (Gilroy) followed in 2006 and 2007 with Rory Keller (Petaluma as assistant). In 2008 Sheila Garvey (Petaluma) and Rory Keller directed the camp. It moved to Sonoma State University that year when Mills informed us that their campus had been rented for the next two summers. Sonoma State has proved to be a good home for Tech Trek. In 2012 Sheila and Erin advised and assisted Melissa Bryden (Sacramento) in her job as pre-camp director with Erin as “during-camp” director so Melissa could teach. Erin and former camper, junior counselor, and dorm mom Stephanie Morris (On-line) will co-direct in 2013.
Whittier Barbara Gile (Whittier), and Cathy Schroeder (Whittier) directed the Whittier camp from 2001–2004.
Nilsa Arias (Whittier) took over in 2005 and continues in that position today with Janet Sanchez (Brea-La Habra) as assistant. Cathy often returns as on-site nurse during camp. Nilsa taught at the camp and decided that a move to director would keep the camp alive.
Branches in California continued to back Tech Trek’s success and growth. Even though the number of statewide branches continues to shrink, the number of scholarships for the camps continues to grow. Many branches claim that their Tech Trek effort keeps them going.
UC Santa Barbara The next burst of growth occurred in 2005 when Tech Trek Santa Barbara opened its doors, co-directed by Colleen Briner-Schmidt (Thousand Oaks) and Susan Pease (Camarillo). Since 2010 Susan has continued on as director with significant back-up from Linda Stinebaugh (Camarillo). Susan added a second week in 2011: the two camps are known as “Hypatia” and “Elizabeth Blackwell, ” named for two famous women in math and science.
UC Irvine A new site for Tech Trek, UC Irvine, opened in 2010. Jan Cook (Victor Valley) and Amy Harbin (Diamond Bar/Walnut) had been at San Diego Tech Trek for many years as dorm moms. They accepted the challenge of beginning a brand new camp at a new site and made the 2010 camp a rousing success. Jan and Amy trained two new directors before the 2012 camp and, in 2013, turned it over to the new directors, Desiree Beaudry Sanchez (Victor Valley) and Becky Stachel (Victor Valley).
UC Davis Davis was the site of the tenth and latest camp. Lisa Beauchamp (Sacramento) took on the job of director and opened the camp in 2011; Carol Holzgrafe acted as interim director for 2012; Susan Wheeler (CHAR) and Martha Rees (Nevada County) take over in 2013. No additional camps are currently planned.
A total of 132 branches out of 140 participated in Tech Trek in 2011. All but eight branches sent local girls to camp in 2012. While several branches have merged with others, most are careful to maintain their camper numbers.
Reunions Also in 2010, Tech Trek held its first reunion for alumni of the program. The event took place in San Ramon just after the April convention. Nearly 100 former campers attended. They were treated to a keynote speech by retired Judge LaDoris Cordell (Stanford’s inspiring keynote speaker), met with Tech Trekkers from camps other than their own, and heard a panel of former campers who have gone on to study math and science and are now out in the workplace, most in STEM careers.
A second reunion, this time in southern California, gathered former Trekkers after the 2011 state convention in Irvine, with similar format. Dr. Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College and a mathematician by profession, was the keynote speaker.
Survey In 2006, with Marie Wolbach as Survey Coordinator and Nancy Andren as Assistant Survey Coordinator, AAUW California began to organize a Tech Trek Survey. The survey development, web hosting, analysis, and final report were prepared by Woodside Research Consortium, Steven A. Schneider, Ph.D., Director. Major funding was generously provided by the AAUW Educational Foundation, the Mooneen Lecce Giving Circle, and the James & Rebecca Morgan Family Foundation. AAUW CA provided funding to distribute the survey report to each branch in the State.
The survey included campers from the first four years of Tech Trek, namely 1998–2001. Each branch received a copy of the report and they continue to find it a valuable tool to create interest and donations for Tech Trek. This survey report is available at aauw-techtrek.org.
Participating AAUW branches are required to report on camper progress and contact details for five years—through high school and, preferably, into college and career. The information is added to an electronic camper tracking database which can be used for future surveys, reunion invitations, etc.
Tech Trek alumnae now return to act as teachers, dorm moms, health aides, and speakers at the camps, and, in the case of Fresno and Sonoma, as camp directors. This is a fine way to continue to pass the STEM idea along. The addition of younger members as dorm moms, teachers, and directors is appealing to our 13-year-old campers.
Special Project Coordinator In 2005 Marie Wolbach and Nancy Andren (supported by Karen Manelis) proposed to the AAUW CA BOD that a new appointed position of Tech Trek State Coordinator be created. Up until this time, camp directors had been responsible for sending out information to the branches, ordering supplies for all camps, handling questions from parents, branches and the general public, and finding new directors for camps. It had become too big a job for directors to continue in this manner.
The AAUW CA BOD agreed and created the position of Tech Trek State Project Coordinator. The first year, Phyllis Gale (Berkeley) filled this position. One thing to note is that the Tech Trek year had run, more or less, from September through August and the AAUW CA fiscal year runs from July through June. This created some problems in agreeing on what year is what, so the first year of an appointed chair (formerly off-board chair) was 2005–2006 in AAUW CA years and 2006 in Tech Trek years.
For the 2008 camp year, Marie Wolbach and Nancy Andren acted as TT State Coordinators. For camp years 2009–2011, Carol Holzgrafe and Nancy Andren filled the position. For the 2011–12 year, Carol maintained the State Coordinator position with Nancy designated as Financial Liaison. They worked closely together on all Tech Trek matters. Both are looking for women dedicated to Tech Trek to train and eventually take over their positions since no one goes on forever.
Financial Liaison Tech Trek created the position of Financial Liaison to work with SPF (Special Projects Fund, AAUW CA’s nonprofit agency) and the camp treasurers. Karen Manelis held the position until September
2011.There is also an IT contact for Tech Trek, Linda Stinebaugh (Camarillo), who maintains the database of all former campers. Updated contact information (from the branches and from junior counselor applications) helps them re-connect with their girls; details of former campers’ education and career choices help us all in writing grants. In addition, Barbara Palmer (Morgan Hill) acted as purchasing agent for Tech Trek through the 2012 camp season.
Live Scan Sandy DiSario (Palm Springs) has been the Tech Trek official liaison to the State of California since
2008. All staff members who work at Tech Trek are required to pass a California Live Scan fingerprinting program. This ensures that no one working at camp has a criminal record; it is the same process required for teachers, coaches, and others working with children.
Self-Pay Campers For the first 5–7 years, Tech Trek did take self-paying campers. This meant that a branch did not provide a scholarship; the parents paid their daughter’s way. As the branches became better able to raise money, this practice has been phased out. Although the self-pay girls helped the camps survive the early years, having self-pay girls at camp was not always a success. We found that the girls sometimes did not really want to be there to study and learn but, instead, wanted to party or to enjoy a recreational camp. Their attitude adversely affected the campers who were there to fully participate in learning. We continue to emphasize that the girl herself wants to come, not her parents or grandparents.