Greensville/ Emporia Jr. 4-H Summer Camp - Let your child become part of the tradition!

What is the best thing to do when it is cold outside?  Plan for summer!  Greensville/ Emporia   4-H camp is the perfect way for your child to have a new, exciting experience this summer while making friends that will last a lifetime.  The 2017 Greensville/ Emporia 4-H Camp will be held July 10 – 14th at the beautiful Airfield 4-H Educational Center in Wakefield, VA.  A variety of camp classes, afternoon activities, and special evening programs are great fun for all youth. Camp class examples include swimming, archery, riflery, arts and crafts, canoeing, nature, cooking, fishing, leather craft, sports, theater arts, climbing wall, high ropes and much more!

Greensville/ Emporia 4-H Camp is open to all youth 9-13 years that are residents of Greensville/ Emporia.The cost of camp is $220 for the first child, $215 for a second child, and $200 for each additional child. Scholarship applications are available upon request at time of registration.

To register for camp, we are having a one-day sign-up this year.  The 2017 Greensville/ Emporia 4-H Camp Sign-up Day will be Saturday, March 18, 2017 beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office in Emporia, VA.  A non-refundable $40.00 deposit is due the day of camp sign-up. We accept cash in the exact amount (we do not keep change in the office), check, and money orders. We are not able to accept debit or credit cards.  4-H Camp Sign-up will continue until camp is full or 12:00 p.m. that day on a first come first serve basis. There will be a $15.00 credit towards your child’s camp balance to the first 15 campers to register on sign-up day!!!

Please contact the Greensville/Emporia Extension Office for further information or to request a brochure for more information (434) 348-4223 or drexel@vt.edu .

4-H Camp would not be possible without the help of adult volunteers.  There is no cost for an adult volunteer to attend camp, just the completion of camp training.   This is a great way to share this experience with your child!

If interested In Becoming an Adult Volunteer, contact the Extension Office for an application.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in the 2017 4-H Camp, please contact Drexel W. Pierce, Jr. at the Extension Office no later than two weeks prior to the date assistance is needed.  Our office hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie,  Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg

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SVCC Grads Cool Job Helps Others

Saving lives and helping the sick and injured is a cool way to spend your working days.  Being an emergency room physician is the cool choice for Michael Cieslinski who started his higher education path at Southside Virginia Community College. 

A native of Gasburg, Virginia, Ciesllnski graduated from Brunswick Academy before coming to SVCC where received an associate’s degree in general studies/science.  Cieslinski then transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University, graduated from VCU Medical School and also, received a Post Baccalaureate certificate in anatomy and neurobiology. He is doing his Emergency Medicine Residency through East Carolina University and at Vidant Medical Center.

This year, he will return to Southside Virginia to work as an Emergency Physician at Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg and Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center in Emporia.

“SVCC is such a great community of teachers and learners.  The faculty really seem to love what they do and pass that love of learning on to their students,” he said.

Coming to SVCC directly from service in the United States Marine Corps, he notes that he had no clear direction for his future and is thankful to faculty members who helped him define his course.  He noted Susan Slayton, Sharon Freeman and Shanley Dorin as mentors.

“Enjoy the journey,” are his words of advice.  Cieslinski said that he left SVCC to pursue a degree in economics and ended up in medicine.  He says it was definitely a long and circuitous route but he would not change it for anything.

“Embrace your failures and your critics,” he said.  “I’ve learned more from the times I messed than ever from the times I ‘got it right’.”

His only F grade in college was received at SVCC from Teresa Hudson in Calculus. 

He notes, “I thought I could float through the course and floated my way to an F.  I learned a hard lesson about my limitations, how to expand them and also, received a healthy dose of humility.”

Through his many experiences in life, Cieslinksi has formulated an outlook that encompasses empathy, happiness and health.

He said, “Empathize, be kind, be happy, be healthy.  You don’t have to work in an emergency room to know that no one gets out of this life alive.  What I have learned is, the life we lead is both fragile and unpredictable.  Entire families can be broken up at the drop of a hat; lost to violence, car accidents, drugs, random acts of nature, bad health and chance.”

He reminds us to make healthy decisions and be a blessing to others, quite a cool prescription for living.

For information about SVCC, www.southside.edu

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7th Annual Women’s Conference Planned

Williamsburg, VA.  Friday, March 24 and Saturday March 25, Walk In It, Inc. will be hosting the 7th Annual Women’s Conference at the Doubletree by Hilton in Williamsburg, VA.

The theme for the 7th annual Women’s Conference is “Walking In Your New Thing” taken from Isaiah 43:19. Women of faith will gather together to fellowship, be empowered and learn to unapologetically walk in all that has been ordained for their lives. Special speakers and presenters include Rev. Pamela McLaughlin, Pastor Kim White, Rev. Charla Armstead, and Karen Portman.

Registration is $60 and includes Friday comedy night, buffet luncheon, conference materials, and 5 dynamic sessions. Registration can be completed at www.walkinit.com/witwomen. Special hotel rates apply and can be accessed by emailing walkinitinc@yahoo.com.

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Programs bridge gender gap in male-dominated STEM careers

By Alexa Nash, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Kathryn Duda, a third-year computer engineering student at Virginia Commonwealth University, walked into the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) lab her first year and sat down next to a male student working on a project. She was curious and wanted to know what he was doing.

“I walked in there, and it was like he was intimidated by my female presence,” Duda said.

This kind of interaction is not uncommon; women are chronically underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, especially in computer science and engineering. According to a 2016 study by the National Science Board, 29 percent of women in the workforce are in STEM careers. Of that percentage, 15 percent are engineers and 25 percent are computer scientists or mathematicians. However, local schools are making progress to promote gender equality in STEM fields.

Duda and her classmate Hiba Nabi, a third-year electrical engineering major, are aware of their minority status, and they say academic and social challenges arise when they could be the only females in the room.

“More women doubt themselves going into STEM areas,” Nabi said. Electrical and computer engineering, Duda and Nabi said, are majors within the school that has a low number of females in comparison to others.

“When I say I’m doing electrical, I get more looks than if I had said I’m doing biomedical engineering,” Nabi said.

This disconnect within STEM-related fields is felt even before women reach college. Dr. Terrie Hale Scheckelhoff, Head of School at St. Catherine’s Schoolin Richmond, saw the underrepresentation of women in STEM as a great disadvantage to society due to untapped potential.

“The world in the past has not been as focused in science, technology, engineering and math, and we’re realizing that’s such a lost opportunity,” Scheckelhoff said. “For young women who haven’t had the skill development and deep exposure to STEM, it could cause them to be discounted out of lots of career options; it could cause them to not be able to fully utilize the many tools available to them beyond college and in life.”

Scheckelhoff spearheaded the all-girls Episcopal school’s STEM-centered curriculum from junior kindergarten through 12th grade. Research by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools show that three times as many graduates from single-sex schools plan to become engineers, and 48 percent of alumnae say they are great at math as opposed to 37 percent from co-ed schools.

“When we teach science, technology, engineering or math, we are looking at through the lens of women,” Scheckelhoff said. “Women tend to want to understand its relevancy more. It’s helpful if you have female role models, either in person or in the books they read about them, or the stories they hear.” This teaching style promotes confidence in the students’ abilities to pursue STEM careers to supplement the underrepresentation of women in the workforce.

A new independent public school in Richmond is testing a model for STEM education. CodeRVA High School is the result of a need to build a workforce in computer science and technology in the Richmond region. It’s an open, project-based, in-class and online learning environment that focuses on mastery of skills as opposed to grades.

Director Michael Bolling said that gender, race and socioeconomic diversity is emphasized when selecting the students for admission. As of Feb. 22, there are 631 applications for 91 spots in the first ninth and 10th grade class. Of those 631, approximately 30 percent were female. Bolling said that CodeRVA will admit a higher percentage of that 30 percent to promote equality in the student population.

“What we’ll do is set a goal for year one, two, three, four, so that by the time we’re at full capacity, we’ll have a ratio that’s representative of the Richmond region which would be 50/50,” Bolling said.

CodeRVA will work on a multimedia campaign directed toward girls to encourage them to apply. However, the students will inspire final decisions about the marketing campaign approach.

“I’m going to let my female students tell me what we need to do,” Bolling said. He hopes to partner with organizations like Women Who Codeto show the female students that they can be successful in a STEM field, as well as have mentors that share their experiences.

Mentorship and support from other females in STEM careers have repeatedly been cited as important factors from those in the community.

“You look for people who are like you and can share your experience,” Duda said. “Seeing that the stereotypes aren’t true and that could be me.”

Biases and stereotypes, Duda said, discourage women from attempting a career like computer or electrical engineering. Ideas that women are inferior to men and individuals that assume STEM careers are anti-social are two stereotypes that Duda and Nabi said are the most common. Bringing awareness to those false generalizations in and outside of the classroom, they said, would be the first step in changing the dialogue.

“People are like, ‘Oh, so you’re going to sit behind a screen and program’ and I’m like no, no, no, I understand the theory of electronics, but I’m going to go out and work on this car, and I’m going to interact with people,” Duda said. “Pull some of the gender out of academics and make it into what it is.”

Dr. Lorraine Parker, director of diversity and student programs at VCU, is also committed to changing the dialogue. She saw the need for a community in which the women in electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and nuclear engineering could feel comfortable, so she began VINE: Vertically Integrated Network of Engineers. It’s a group of women from each major comprised of freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors who meet once a month for complimentary coffee to talk about their academic and social lives. This gives the women a chance to connect with others in their field.

The dean of the School of Engineering, Dr. Barbara Boyan, forged the initiative for diversity and inclusion. It includes educating faculty on unconscious biases and stereotypes to reduce them in the classroom. Parker said that VCU is lucky to have Boyan as a leader for promoting gender equality in STEM education.

“We’ve had talks with faculty and said, if you get teams doing stuff in your class for projects and one is all girls, don’t say, ‘come on girls, show them you can do it,’ which they think is encouragement. But what they’ve really done is triggered this subconscious bias that they’re not supposed to do as well,” Parker said. “The women tend to believe it, which is silly, because they’re the ones doing it.”

Showing the women that they belong in their respective disciplines through peer and professional support is key to pushing them forward into the workplace. Studies have shown that women perform just as well on math tests as men, but once they have to identify their gender, they tend to perform worse. The process to change that mentality begins in the home.

“Expose [girls] to a variety of things when they’re young,” Duda said. “Show them that if they’re interested in something, encourage it. If you hear them say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that because I’m …,’ say, ‘No, of course you can. Of course you can.’”

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Most House bills die on unrecorded votes

By Jesse Adcock, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – During the recently concluded legislative session, three bills to increase the minimum wagein Virginia died in the House Labor and Commerce Committee. Want to know who voted for or against the measures? Sorry; the votes went unrecorded.

A billrequiring transgender people to use the restroom for the sex on their birth certificate died in the House General Laws Committee. Want to know who voted for or against it? No luck; those votes weren’t recorded, either.

A billprohibiting politicians from converting their campaign funds for personal use died in the House Privileges and Elections Committee. Want to know who voted for or against it? Forget it; that bill was killed on an unrecorded voice vote, too.

Of the 571 House bills that failed during the session, more than two-thirds were anonymously killed on voice votes in subcommittees that went unrecorded, according to data from the Legislative Information System, the General Assembly’s official recordkeeping arm. Proponents of open government say the lack of transparency muddies the waters of Virginia’s democracy.

“For a final disposition on a vote, it is crucial they be recorded,” said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

People elect their representatives based on how politicians stand on issues vital to voters’ interests, Rhyne said. If they can’t see how public officials have voted on an issue, citizens can’t accurately choose their representatives, she added.

Delegates have said in the pastthat using voice votes keeps the legislative process moving quickly and lessens the burden on lawmakers.

Rhyne disputed that notion. “I really don’t see that with electronic voting measures and small committees,” she said. “It doesn’t hold water.”

Unlike the House, votes by Senate panels are generally recorded.

LIS data showed that 1,086 bills were filed by members of the House for consideration during the legislative session that ran from Jan. 11 through Feb. 25. Of the total, 515 bills passed and 571 failed. Of the failed bills, 390 died on unrecorded voice votes, according to LIS data.

In addition, at least 20 other House bills were simply ignored this session. These measures were assigned to committees, but the panels did not hold hearings on them. As a result, the bills were left in their committees without a vote.

They included a bill to repeal Virginia’s legal prohibitions against same sex-marriage(because they are no longer valid in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling), as well as bills to expandand to restrict abortion rights.

Republican Del. Benjamin Cline of Rockbridge introduced a bill during this session that would have required every bill, budget amendment and resolution to receive a recorded vote. It died in the House Rules Committee – on an unrecorded vote. In 2016, a similar proposal by Cline met the same fate.

House officials say both Democrats and Republicans have supported the system of unrecorded votes in subcommittees.

“It only takes two members to request a recorded vote,” said Christopher West, policy and communications director for House Speaker William Howell and the House Republican leadership. “Based on the ratio that’s set up, there’s almost always two Democrats on a subcommittee.”

West added that when a subcommittee tables or strikes a bill, it is only a suggestion to its parent committee. The full committee can consider any piece of legislation killed in subcommittee.

“The reason we do it is because it doesn’t take final action on the bill,” West said.

On last day of the 2017 session, 85 delegates and senators – members of the Virginia Transparency Caucus – signed a letterseeking more accountability throughout the legislative process.

“The vast majority of debates and decisions determining how bills are crafted occurs in Committee or Subcommittee. Indeed, more than half of all bills die there,” Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, a co-founder of the caucus, said in the letter. “Constituents have a right to know how and why bills they support or oppose ultimately met their fate.”

The caucus sent the letter to the clerks of the House and Senate as the state is preparing to tear down and replace the decrepit General Assembly Building. The letter asked that “the new General Assembly Building (and, if possible, the interim Pocahontas Building) maintain full audio and visual recording capability, as well as transparent vote recording machines for all Committee and Subcommittee hearings rooms in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.”

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