Conference to provide role models for girls


Giving eighth-grade girls career options and helping them set educational goals is the mission of the first-ever girls conference in Moffat County.

Thursday's day-long get together of all the area's eighth-graders, including those who are home schooled, is sponsored by Moffat County Partners and partially funded by the Women's Foundation of Colorado.

"We want to help drive the goal in girls to focus on education and how they're going to focus on a career," said Debi Landoll, director of Moffat County Partners.

Several local working women will talk to the girls about their jobs and the education necessary to have that job. There will be representatives from the political arena and paralegal, cosmetology, computer, nursing, dermatology, and environmental engineering fields.

"I love that age of girls," said Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office employee Elaine Sullivan. "It's a fun age and it's nice for them to have some input. They have a lot of decisions to make."

Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig Professor Sheila Harper will talk to the girls about higher GED standards that make it better, and easier, to graduate from high school instead of dropping out.

"We have quite a variety," Landoll said. "I think they'll love it. It'll be quite a day."

Several other community members will join the teens for lunch for an informal question-and-answer session. Representatives in professions from mining to mental health will attend the lunch portion of the conference.

"It's kind of educational-, carrier-, goal-oriented fun," Landoll said. "The girls will get first-hand information with regard to career options and choices. The girls will have real, visual experiences with real career options."

Information will be provided on the type of education that each career requires, the on-the-job requirements and gender issues.

Girls in the Moffat County Partners FOCUS group attended a similar conference last year, and this year the Women's Foundation gave Partners $3,000 to host its own conference.

The FOCUS program is operated though the Division of Criminal Justice, which provided another $1,000 for the conference.

"We're the only ones who provide a female-specific program in Moffat County," Landoll said.

The group includes nearly 20 at-risk teens who participate in activities based on real-life decisions and situations.

They discuss education, restorative justice, women's health, culture, spirituality and mental health issues, among others.

"It's a broad-structured curriculum," Landoll said.

Mental health issues include healthy relationships, emotional and sexual abuse, family relationships, body image, suicide and others.

"They talk about taking their power back," Landoll said. "We have adult female volunteers who mentor, so the girls really have a big support group through those women."

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