Empow(HER) expands to two weeks, offers more options

by Annika Freiburger

Written by Jesse White

EVELETH, MINN – After a successful first year, the organizers of a camp aimed at introducing more women to the trades have expanded the program.

“Empow(HER) Girls in the Trades Summer Camp” will now offer two camps—one in Hibbing and one in Eveleth—and several new hands-on activities for students to learn from.

“With the success of our camp last year, we wanted to expand to include more Trades and also offer the opportunity to additional female students across the region,” said Jacky Bird, a career Counselor with JET (formerly known as the Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training). “In collaboration with Minnesota North College we decided to hold camps at both their Eveleth and Hibbing locations.”

The first camp will be held next week, June 12-15 at Minnesota North in Hibbing.

The following, June 19-22, a camp will be at Minnesota North in Eveleth.

Both camps are full, Bird said, with 20 girls attending each one.

“The first year was a huge success. At the end of last summer’s camp students were inquiring about the next summer camp and excited to come back again. We had so much positive feedback that it made it easy to decide to do it again this year,” Bird said. “It also influenced us in adding the second location.”

This year’s planning committee includes Angela Heikkila with Applied Learning Institute and Minnesota North College Empower, Jane Shade and Shannon Malovrh Federal Perkins Grant True North Stars Coordinators, Renee Prout and Jacky Bird JET Career Counselors.

The idea behind a ‘girls only’ construction camp is to give female students hands-on experience in a variety of trades in a comfortable, safe, and fun environment.

The program is a collaboration between JET-Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training and their 218Trades programs and Minnesota North Colleges and their Empower program. It is also supported by Federal Perkins Grant for Career and Technical Education and the True North Stars Consortium, Youth at Work, and ALI.

Bird said that this past February, 400 female students from 15 high schools attended four different Women in the Workforce events at multiple Minnesota North College Campuses. Those events provided students career enrichment activities and expose to nontraditional careers for women.

“The feedback from students and business partners was we needed to create additional summer programing to create more opportunities and keep the momentum going,” she said.

“These camps are a great way for local female students to gain hands-on experience in a variety of trades. By participating in camps and Women in the Workforce events, it encourages students to consider non-traditional careers as a viable option for their future careers,” Bird said. “The camps provide female students a unique opportunity to work together with girls from various high schools. The camp vision is for female students to explore careers, build skills, and gain confidence, all while in a small group setting specifically designed for them.”

Besides adding a second week, this year’s camps will also feature more hands-on activities for students to learn about in demand careers in our region such as Automotive and Diesel Mechanics, HVAC, and Industrial Mechanical Technology/Millwright. The female students will learn skills that they can use in everyday life as well as witness women in the field which may lead to their own long-term careers.

The camps will culminate on the last days with industry tours at L&M Radiator, a construction site at Hull Rust Mine with Max Gray Construction, RMS/Tri-Tech, and the construction of Rock Ridge’s North Star Elementary with Krause Anderson.

Both sessions are full already as organizers posted flyers on Facebook on the 218Trades and Minnesota North College pages that were shared by thousands of local people, Bird said.

Flyers were also sent to 24 local high schools to distribute to students.

Both camps were filled within a couple weeks and have waiting lists.

And organizers are already looking toward next year’s version.

“The goal is to continue to expand and create new opportunities for high school students to learn about nontraditional careers and support our local workforce employment needs,” Bird said.

For more information or to be involved in future career events please contact Angela Heikkila at Angela.Heikkila@minnesotanorth.edu.

***This article originally appeared in the June 9th Edition of the Mesabi Tribune