Madera Girls Inspired by Science
By Ramona Frances
Special to The Madera Tribune

Eighth grade girls selected for their strong science aptitudes and positive scholastic attitudes are attending an uncommon camp called Tech Trek at Fresno State University this week. Classes and activities at the camp are led and taught by women engaged in science and math careers. All 78 girls, including five from Madera County will undergo an intensive educational regime linked to math, science, engineering, technology and art but it is also designed to be entertaining.

Words printed on their daily schedule read, “Please be on time. Everyone has a schedule, so there is no excuse for being late. Nothing is optional; you must show up to every activity. Don’t worry, everything will be fun.”

Several AAUW members including Lynda Schafhauser of Madera who attended Tech Trek open house on Wednesday agreed the camp looked like a lot of fun. Schafhauser, formerly of San Jose is a retired water specialist.

“If we can influence even one young woman to go to college, one that does not back away from hard sciences, we have succeeded in following our mission,” she said.

Although there are a total of eight California universities that support Tech Trek camps, Central Valley girls are assigned to Fresno State University for their science camp experience where it is held each year. Funding for the camp, and scholarships for Madera college bound women, is raised by the American Association of University Women locally through the group’s annual “Movie Premier Night” and through generous individual sponsorships.

This year Madera university women selected five Tech Trek scholarship recipients to send to camp and five graduating high school senior women scholarship recipients who will attend college. Tech Trek campers stay in dorms on the university campus with peers from other regions of California for a week of hands-on learning. Swimming, hiking and canoeing along the San Joaquin River adds to their outdoor learning experience.

AAUW has been breaking barriers nationally for women and girls for 137 years. The Madera branch, established in 1957 has about 25 active members. An annual fund-raiser held Madera in the fall called “Move Night” helps raise money for activities such as Tech Trek.

Madera County 2013 participants are: Ariana Prudente (Desmond Middle School)
Brooke Yang & Holly Hiatt (Ranchos Middle School)
Lorena Camacho & Karina Hinojosa (La Vina School)