Girls camp focuses on business and STEM

Emily Prochnow

MANKATO — Imagine a weeklong camp that includes everything from virtual reality at Microsoft to a sit-down with Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve.

Teen girls are offered these opportunities and more by attending the Bold Futures Camp.

Minnesota State University’s College of Business and Taylor Corp. partnered to put on the camp. The Glen A. Taylor Foundation is sponsoring three weeklong camps over three years with this being the second year. The foundation is covering all the costs for the campers.

The camp provides girls grades 10 to 12 with a hands-on opportunity to explore careers in business and STEM.

“We want girls to understand that the STEM careers they are interested in are obtainable,” said camp director Karri Olmanson. “I want them to make connections between their interests and possible career paths.”

The camp kicked off Monday with a trip to the Twin Cities that included tours of Target Center, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine and Microsoft. Experimenting with holographic glasses at Microsoft was a highlight for camper Aurora Kahmanm, a soon-to-be sophomore at Mankato West. Kahmanm said the camp is giving her a read on “which careers might be good fits, and which ones may not work.”

When they aren’t taking trips and receiving tours, the campers spend their time doing team-building activities and labs conducted by MSU faculty.

Tuesday the campers began the day with a coding lab and a tour of Taylor Corp. Later in the day they received a lecture on financial literacy from Emily Prochnow, the director of planning and execution at Ameriprise in Minneapolis.

Prochnow’s presentation covered everything from college savings to retirement planning. The campers also were given an opportunity to write out their long-term career goals and share them in groups.

“My goal is to bring these industries closer to the people who might be interested in them,” Prochnow said. “I hope this experience can help them learn a little bit more about themselves.”

Wednesday started with a water purification lab that included a competition. The campers were given a kit and competed to see who could make the best water filter.

The day concluded with a networking dinner that gave campers the opportunity to connect with women in business and STEM fields. About 40 female business leaders attended the event, including Taylor Corp. CEO Deb Taylor. Each camper came up with an “elevator pitch” about their strengths that was presented at the dinner.

Soon-to-be Mankato East junior Bianca Corral saw it as a special opportunity to “meet new people and learn how they got to where they are today.”

The camp will conclude Friday with the campers giving their Bold Futures presentations about what they learned and two careers they could see themselves going into.

“It’s been great to have this event at MSU,” Olmanson said. “Some of these students aren’t sure they can attend a university or go into these fields, so being in this setting is really opening their eyes to all the possibilities.”