STEM Ambassadors Top 25,000 Volunteer Hours in 2015
Katie Coady is happy to volunteer as one of hundreds of Dow STEM Ambassadors because she knows she could change the course of a student’s life.
“It’s very important to make students aware of the many ways they can pursue science,” said Coady, an environmental toxicologist for Dow Michigan Operations. “We know students form opinions about STEM at a very early age, so we want to inspire them when they’re young. Through the STEM Ambassador program, we can be that spark of inspiration that may help a young girl or boy decide to be a future scientist. I really enjoy doing that.”
She’s not alone. The number of STEM Ambassadors continued to grow in 2015, topping 1,600 people at sites from India to Indiana and California to China. That was a 72 percent increase in 2015 alone. In total, Dow employees logged more than 25,000 volunteer hours during the year to enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for more than 550,000 students.
Dow launched its global Ambassadors movement in 2014 as a way to help employees maximize the impact of their community outreach efforts. Ambassador leaders worked with top educators to design activities that coordinated with classroom lessons. They assembled kits that made it easy and effective for volunteers to engage kids with hands-on demonstrations. They organized local chapters at a growing number of Dow locations and encouraged more and more employees to get involved.
“Employees are getting the message that being a STEM Ambassador is a worthwhile use of their time and energy,” said Jaime Curtis-Fisk, a Dow Research & Development scientist who also helps organize the Ambassador movement. “We’ve taken care of a lot of the groundwork, so people can get right to the business of helping teachers and students experience the wonders of STEM.”
Coady has been involved in a number of ways. She volunteered at the Dow Great Lakes Bay STEM Festival in the fall at Delta College, near Dow’s Michigan Operations site. She joined colleague Pam Spencer to present a forensic discovery experience to students at last spring’s Tech Savvy event in Gaylord, Michigan, which was dedicated to inspiring girls toward STEM education and career opportunities. She regularly welcomes students from nearby colleges and universities into her lab to experience what a STEM career is really all about.
“I hope their education can include learning that there is good science being done in the world,” Coady said. “Dow hired me to protect the environment, and we are trying to protect more and more of the environment all the time. I hope that through our STEM Ambassadors students can see a career path that is exciting and rewarding.”