Support Young Scientists: Mentors Needed for Dane County Biotechnology Youth Apprentices

I moved back to Madison from the east coast last September and I have to say it’s been really great being back in the Midwest… the Youth Apprenticeship Program opened doors to opportunities for me that may never have existed if I had not participated in the program. It established the foundation of my entire resume throughout college, which was crucial to the genetic counseling application process. — Kristin Gunderson, Genetic Counselor, Carbone Cancer Center (Kristin worked in the lab of Dr. Deane Mosher, UW School of Medicine Public Health, under the mentorship of Dr. Bianca Tomasini-Johannson and is a 2006 high school graduate.)

Yang Chen, 2015 graduate, at her worksite in the lab of Dr. Xuehua Zhong, UW-Madison Department of Genetics; mentor: Dean Sanders. Yang is currently a freshman at UW-Madison, majoring in microbiology.

Yang Chen, 2015 graduate, at her worksite in the lab of Dr. Xuehua Zhong, UW-Madison Department of Genetics; mentor: Dean Sanders. Yang is currently a freshman at UW-Madison, majoring in microbiology.

OK, we are not going to be shy about it: We need any assistance our readers may be able to provide to help us find additional mentors for high school juniors and seniors who are enrolled in the Dane County Youth Apprenticeship Program in Biotechnology.

The good news is that there are 32 students who have elected to participate in the program, given their strong interests in the life sciences and in particular, biotechnology. They represent 14 public high schools in the area. They (1) complete all necessary classes for graduation; (2) attend a hour-hour intensive laboratory course at the BTC Institute from 4:30–8:30pm on Wednesdays; and, (3) work in laboratory settings throughout the community.  (For details, please visit: http://www.btci.org/k12/yap/yap.html)

2015 Wednesday class in action at the BTC Institute with instructor Chad Zimprick, Promega R&D scientist.

2015 Wednesday class in action at the BTC Institute with instructor Chad Zimprick, Promega R&D scientist.

This specialized instruction at the BTC Institute prepares them to effectively contribute at their worksites, including academic research and industry labs. Apprentices typically work 10–15 hours per week during the school year and quite a bit more during the summer months: They are required to work 450 hours annually in a paid position, under the supervision of a mentor.

More good news: We have successfully placed 20 students with dedicated scientists and their team members, and are working on other leads. Our goal to have all apprentices successfully employed by the beginning of second semester.

alex_williams

Alex Williams, 2015 graduate, at his worksite, MOFA Global (now CRI, MOFA Global) in Mt. Horeb; Mentors: Dr. Ann Rozner, Dr. John Verstegen and Tom Schlimgen. Alex is currently a freshman at UW-Stevens Point, pursuing his interest in science.

This means we are looking for 12 additional mentors, and this is where you come in. Are you in a position to explore mentoring a student? Do you know others who might be interested in doing so?  If “yes,” our K-12 Program Director, Barbara Bielec, would be very happy to hear from you (barbara.bielec@btci.org; 608-277-2618). Thank you in advance for your efforts on behalf of the next generation of scientifically skilled young adults!










By the way, Barbara is the person “Mrs. B.”, who receives messages like this one from former students:

Hi Mrs. B.,

I know you like to hear updates from us YAP students so here is mine. I was accepted into the clinical laboratory science program at the UW- La Crosse. I am currently working on applications for hospitals to intern at next fall (2016). Currently I am working as a microbiologist intern for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. I have learned so much already and am excited to learn more.

Thank you for what you have done for me as a YAP student and for what you are doing for future students in the program. It was an amazing opportunity to have as a young high school student and it really pushed me to succeed. I cannot thank you enough for being a wonderful teacher.

Thank you,
Taylor Ashworth (2013 high school graduate)

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Karin Borgh, PhD is the Executive Director of the BTC Institute.

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