The College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State University is holding the first-ever all-girls Discovery Day on campus to introduce female high school students to careers in wildlife and fisheries.
Discovery Day will take place on April 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free for 24 students in the ninth through 11th grades. Participants will learn skills including GPS orienteering, water sampling and wildlife identification.
"Weather permitting, we’ll go canoeing at the Noxubee Refuge and spend some time looking at aquatic creatures under a microscope," said Leslie Burger, the MSU Extension environmental education associate organizing the event. "We’ll talk about identifying mammals by fur and tracks and the different jobs available in forestry, wildlife, biology, ecology, law enforcement and land management. And if these girls learn a little about conservation, and come away as better stewards of our environment, that’s great!"
As a high school student, Burger knew she someday wanted to wok outdoors with wildlife.
"But I didn’t know wildlife biology was even a career option," she said. "So we want to introduce these girls to some careers they might not have considered."
The number of female students in MSU’s College of Forest Resources in on the rise, but forestry and wildlife are still male-dominated fields.
"We offer co-ed events throughout the year, but typically, not many girls attend," Burger said. "Maybe this is due to societal factors, such as fewer girls hunting, fishing and hiking. Or it could be intimidating for young girls to be paired with boys, because a common assumption is that boys have more experience in outdoor situations. Regardless, we want to minimize these factors and provide the girls with some female role models."
Burger plans to run Discovery Day with an all-female staff of professionals working in natural science fields.
The event is free, but applications are required. Interested students should send a 200-word paragraph about why they want to attend to: Discovery Day, attn: Leslie Burger, Mail Stop 9690, Mississippi State, MS 39762 or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Name, school, grade, T-shirt size and contact info should be included in the application. The deadline to apply is March 25.