October 4, 2018 Peter Tonon

Luncheon Puts Spotlight on STEM Exploring Post

Original article by Texarkana Gazette

A luncheon Tuesday encouraged educators and people in engineering and technology to get involved in starting a STEM Exploring post in Texarkana.

The Boy Scout Caddo Area Council’s Learning for Life program teamed up with CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System to have an Exploring Impact Luncheon at the hospital.

Texarkana has six other Exploring posts—three in law enforcement, and one each in EMS, nonprofit leadership and education.

“We had an exceptional response from the business side and the schools. It was very positive,” said Linda Willis, Exploring director for the Caddo Area Council Boy Scouts.

Texarkana College has already committed to starting a STEM post and Willis said she expects it could start relatively fast.

The STEM post will give young participants the chance for hands-on career exploration.

“Exploring will help them determine if this is the career field they’re interested in. If it is, they can pursue it post-high school. If not they won’t waste their time and can pursue another career,” Willis said.

Greg Johnson, astronaut and director of strategic partnership and innovation for the Boy Scouts of America was the keynote speaker at the event.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Johnson said. “I’m extremely excited to have joined the National Boy Scout organization in this time of change. The purpose of scouting has always been to help prepare our kids for the future. That mission has to evolve now that we’re in a rapidly changing digital world.”

Johnson said his fascination with space began at age 7.

“Exploration is part of our destiny. I was lucky enough to be born into a family of visionaries and innovative thinkers,” Johnson said.

He said that scouting made a huge difference in many aspects of his his development.

“Scouting has been a great influence on me my entire life. It’s influenced me as a parent. What is taught in scouting has really applied to when I was in the Air Force, being in space and the activity we’re doing here today,” Johnson said.

Those who attended the luncheon were asked to set up a meeting to discuss how they could help.

“We are asking you to join us in this partnership of STEM exploring. You don’t have to do the heavy lifting. It takes a village and we can work together,” said Anthony Escobar, Caddo Area Council scout executive. “We’ll find ways for you to support the young men and women in the community and their career exploration of STEM.”