Opalanga Pugh stood before more than 200 women and girls and told a parable about a village of women.
Using the African oral tradition and the African thumb piano, Pugh told of a group of women who had a certain amount of time to understand all they were to know. And if they had not come to an understanding in that time, they would lose all they did know.
Pugh said it was only after the women decided to put their minds together that all came to full knowledge and they celebrated.
Then, the women were sent out to spread that knowledge.
"Remember your hands as a symbol. Keep this thought in your mind: If each one reaches one and each one teaches one, our culture will survive," Pugh said was the motto of the women who left the village.
It was a fitting metaphor for the women and girls who listened to Pugh's story during a luncheon at Tuesday's Girls to Women, Women to Girls Conference.
More than 50 women were reaching and teaching eighth-grade girls from six area schools. They talked about making career choices, learning to relax, understanding relationships, facing the challenges of high school and even juggling.
In its fifth year, the all-day conference is a project of the Women's Foundation of Colorado. It was open to eighth-grade girls from Steamboat, Soroco, Hayden, Christian Heritage, Lowell Whiteman and Walden middle schools.
More than 140 girls attended Tuesday's conference. The Women's Foundation centers its program on eighth-grade girls because it is around that time young girls begin to shift from a strong and distinct sense of confidence to a significant drop in self-esteem and intense feelings of insecurity.
"We connect girls to women in our community," Women's Foundation Trustee Susan Larson said. "We have chosen traditional and nontraditional careers, women of all amazing shapes and sizes."
Eileen Allen was one of the women who was sharing her knowledge with the girls and emphasized finance, a field that girls usually shy away from as they approach high school.
The vice president of Investment at Steamboat's Wells-Fargo Bank, Allen talked about saving money, mutual funds and IRAs. She also discussed how the majority of top company executives are men and that women are still making 75 percent less than men.
She advised the girls to make sure they graduated high school with four full years of science, math and foreign languages.
"Don't shortchange yourself," Allen advised.
Dressed in a suit, eighth-grader Catherine Mann took to heart the advise from presenters and the career choices they offered.
"There were not so many careers 30 years ago. Now there are so many. For girls, it is really amazing what you can do. If you want to be an astronaut, all you have to do is try," Mann said.