This summer, the Colleges will host its 17th annual Environmental Science Summer Youth Institute (ESSYI), providing high school students from across the country with a well-rounded experience of environmental studies. This year, the program will be able to offer added opportunities to high school students in the Finger Lakes area thanks to more than $24,000 in funding that was recently awarded to the program by Finger Lakes Wired. The organization offers funding nationally for the leading organizations that promote science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics.
With special attention to affecting students in the region, ESSYI will use the funding to support 11 scholarships that will allow young women from rural Finger Lakes schools to participate in the program. “We’ve gotten a great response and group of very talented students, most of whom wouldn’t have been able to afford the program otherwise,” explained Jim MaKinster, associate professor of education and ESSYI director.
But ESSYI’s recent funding will also negate another issue facing these young women. “In addition to their financial dilemma, there is a greater obstacle working against these young women: women are historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” MaKinster said. “This funding will make a contribution to this issue as well.”
When students arrive at ESSYI, they spend two weeks engaged in a host of environmentally-focused trips, hikes and classes facilitated by HWS faculty and students. The trips and hikes include visits to the Cayuga Nature Center, Zurich Bog and the Adirondacks Natural History Museum. When they’re not getting knee-deep in nature, these students will take a number of classes across disciplines, which range from alternative energy with Associate Professor of Economics Tom Drennen to philosophy, religion and the environment with Professors of Philosophy Steven Lee and Scott Brophy.
Recognizing the broad spectrum of the ESSYI curriculum, MaKinster explained that, “The professors as well as the HWS students who staff the program are tremendously interdisciplinary: they are from the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts.”
With an emphasis on leaving the classroom, these high school students also leave many of their pre-conceived ideas about what environmental studies is. “There are a lot of explicit lessons that students learn each year: these are the lessons that we teach them in classes and on field trips,” MaKinster said. “But there are a lot of implicit lessons as well. As high school juniors and seniors, they are able to see that environmental studies relates to a host of academic areas and careers.”
Thinking on the benefit of the program as a whole, MaKinster said that, “The real value of this program is the impact that it has on these high school students. The Colleges play an important role in shaping the lives of these students. On a regional level, we certainly do our part to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics, “It is a truly unique program and one of very few like it in the country.”
Anyone interested in ESSYI can find more information at: http://academic.hws.edu/enviro/
Young women from small town or rural schools in the counties listed below and who are interested in the Wired scholarships, should send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finger Lakes Wired Counties include: Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Seneca.