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Girl Scouts of North East Ohio Breaks Ground on STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Ledgewood

2023-07-14_GSNEO_Revised Exterior_View 2 FINAL

Girl Scouts of North East Ohio (GSNEO) is excited to have officially broken ground on their transformational project, the STEM Center of Excellence on August 17, 2023. The STEM Center is being built at the council’s Camp Ledgewood located in Peninsula within the boundaries of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

GSNEO is dedicated to providing the equipment, tools, and skills to build students’ science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) confidence and education. Currently, only 28% of the employees in the fastest growing and highest paying STEM jobs are women. The STEM Center of Excellence will not only inspire Girl Scouts to take on STEM careers but encourage collaboration with local educators to impact a larger group of youth, both boys and girls, to experience year-round STEM opportunities.

The STEM Center will include an 8,000 square foot building and will be integrated with the outdoors in this beautiful 350-acre camp. It will house a wet lab; workshop space, including tools needed for prototyping and invention; a tech space; podcast booth; observatory; weather station; and more. Outside, the building will include other immersive experiences, including a meadow with honeybee exhibit, an outdoor pavilion with bat houses, rain garden, and an outdoor classroom.

A number of elected officials, including Congresswoman Emilia Sykes (D-OH-13), State Senator Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), and State Representative Bill Roemer (R-Richfield), spoke at the groundbreaking. GSNEO’s Chief Executive Officer, Jane Christyson, along with GSNEO’s Board Chair, Kathy Moock, and Capital Campaign Chair, Betsy Engels, also discussed this transformational project.

“I’m proud to have partnered with the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio to secure $850,000 in federal funding so more children in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District can get involved in STEM,” said Rep. Sykes. “This brand-new STEM Center of Excellence will be instrumental in ensuring all children in Northeast Ohio, especially girls, can contribute to the scientific and technological innovations of the future.”

"A strong STEM education leads to incredible job opportunities," Senator Roegner stated, "as a mechanical engineer I am absolutely delighted with the STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Ledgewood. It will educate our youth and transform lives in the process."

“This STEM Center will be an integral part in helping the ever-growing STEM fields continue to reach the youth of Ohio. GSNEO continues to do amazing work that will have effect on future generations, and it all starts here, in Northeastern Ohio,” said Rep. Roemer.

This transformative STEM Center is because of the generous donations from individuals: The Daley Family Foundation, Kathy and Andy Moock, and Dr. Vivian von Gruenigen; as well as substantial giving from The FirstEnergy Foundation, the State of Ohio, Nordson Corporation Foundation, and The Sherwin-Williams Company.

“Empowering young women through Girl Scouts’ activities paves the way for a diverse and strong future in STEM fields, ensuring local companies like FirstEnergy shine brighter together,” said Lorna Wisham, vice president of corporate affairs and community involvement at FirstEnergy and president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. “The FirstEnergy Foundation’s $500,000 donation toward a green roof at the STEM Center of Excellence is also a testament to FirstEnergy’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and supporting environmentally-conscious projects throughout the communities we serve.”

In addition to pivotal speakers, faculty and students from the College of Aeronautics and Engineering (CAE) at Kent State University were on site with drones and other advanced technology to provide a one-of-a-kind groundbreaking event. YIMO, the CAE’s robotic dog delivered the official groundbreaking shovel and guests got a unique look at the location of the STEM Center with a drone flying over and tracing where the outline of the building will be.

The building renderings, general site plans, and floor plans have been completed and vetted during design charettes with adult and girl members, educators, community leaders, and donors by our architect Melinda Scalfaro from Sol/Harris Day. Regency Construction has been chosen to build the STEM Center, and estimates completion of the building in Fall 2024.