County Approves Major Jump In STEM Program Funding

SNOW HILL – Officials are hoping an increase in funding will boost the success of the county’s STEM programs.

The Worcester County Commissioners last week voted unanimously to approve the Worcester County Economic Development Department’s 2019 STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) proposal. Since 2013, the department has been offering a summer program and coordinating local internships in STEM fields.

“We just want our students to know they don’t have to move away to chase their dreams,” said Kathryn Gordon, the county’s interim director of economic development, in an interview this week. “These fields are here.”

The commissioners last Tuesday approved a 2019 STEM program with a budget of $100,000. The funding, which is $23,000 more than the commissioners provided in 2018, will allow for internships in STEM fields as well as expansion of the summer STEM program offered to middle school students through Fawn Mete’s Sinepuxent Group LLC.

“With this increase Fawn and I plan to strengthen our partnerships with NASA Wallops Flight Facility, increase the number of students served in the program as well as focusing on college students approaching graduation for our internship program,” Gordon told the commissioners. “We appreciate your support for this program.”

The county’s STEM program includes a summer camp for students in grades six through eight as well as internships for high school students and college students. While the summer camp introduces students to various STEM fields, the internships help local students develop professional skills and expose them to area businesses related to science, engineering and the like.

Gordon says that in the years since the program was launched in 2013, some interns have been offered jobs with the businesses that provided them with internships.

“We’re already starting to see some fruits from our labor,” she said.

Last year, 49 local students took part in the STEM programs. Gordon is hoping that with the increase in funding, more students will be able to take part, particularly in the summer camp and college-level internships. She’s confident that in the long-term, the programs will show the students educated in Worcester County’s schools that they have opportunities for careers right here.

“They don’t need to leave the Eastern Shore,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.