By DEVIN WEEKS
The director of the Idaho STEM Action Center has been on a listening tour the past few days to meet with North Idaho partners and participate in conferences and training.
"It’s an opportunity to asks questions like, ‘Are we doing the right things? Are we doing enough? Where do you need additional support?'" Angela Hemingway said Friday afternoon while visiting Gizmo-CDA on the North Idaho College campus.
Appointed by Gov. Butch Otter in 2015, Hemingway oversees STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) opportunities that will ensure Idaho’s long-term economic prosperity.
"I get to meet with legislators and ask for funding, I go to industries for funding and I need to understand what people need, what’s working," she said. "I can help them understand what else we need and why we need the funding we’re receiving from the legislature."
The Boise-based, state-funded Idaho STEM Action Center was created to strengthen Idaho's workforce by implementing STEM programs from kindergarten on up.
Hemingway said the center brought in almost $750,000 last year that went through the center and into STEM education, but she has her sights set on $1 million and eventually $2 million to support these programs.
"Last year, Idaho had 6,000 unfilled STEM jobs, we couldn’t find the workforce," she said. "We have essentially two choices: grow our own or we encourage people to bring their kids here. But they want to bring their kids to a high quality education system, and we've got to show we have a high quality STEM education system in case they move in from out of state, which many of them are. We also feel we can grow our own, and that comes with awareness, opportunity and access."
Hemingway connected with Gizmo, Birds of Prey Northwest, University of Idaho and NIC, where she is assisting with training for the next North Idaho Science and Engineering Fair. She said these partnerships are "something we’re really working to enrich so that we can enhance our presence and help put our fingerprint here as well."