Eighth-grader Lucia Banuelos participates in an exercise Tuesday during the Girls to Women Conference at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Eighth-grader Lucia Banuelos participates in an exercise Tuesday during the Girls to Women Conference at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.

Girls to Women event offers career advice, self-confidence

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Girls to Women

Routt County eighth graders learned about relationships, self-worth, making healthy choices, financial planning and career opportunities during the Girls to Women Conference Tuesday at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.

Routt County eighth graders learned about relationships, self-worth, making healthy choices, financial planning and career opportunities during the Girls to Women Conference Tuesday at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.

— Sitting at a lunch table in a large banquet room in the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel, Steamboat Springs Middle School eighth-grader Kate Verploeg became progressively more freaked out about the economy.

"We're all hairdressers or graphic designers, and it doesn't really work out," she said Tuesday, describing the stress of an exercise that gave her a hypothetical salary and list of expenses, including housing, utilities, clothing and transportation.

The lunchtime "Reality Bytes" activity was part of the 10th annual Girls to Women Conference, a daylong event for area eighth-grade girls that focuses on financial self-sufficiency and personal self-esteem.

"You have to think about everything, that it's not just going to come easy," Katie Ross, a Steamboat Middle School student, said of "Reality Bytes." After attending a workshop on yoga and learning about architecture earlier in the day, Ross said she gained perspective on the people who make Steamboat go.

"There are just so many careers that make the community work, so many people here that all have important jobs," she said.

Hosted by New Frontiers for Girls & Women, the event drew 106 local students and about 75 volunteers. Workshop offerings ranged from self-defense and communication techniques to rundowns of career options including medicine, food service, education, art and atmospheric science.

"Where else could these girls get to talk to the professionals in their field in such an open and nourishing way?" said Gail Kellogg, chairwoman of the New Frontiers board of directors. Kellogg said the event promotes self-dependence by providing advice from local experts in a professional environment.

"The main goal is to give them self-confidence for their futures. And how do we do that? By exposing them to many different career types and by exposing them to relationship and personal attitude issues," Kellogg said.

Local artist Sandy Graves, the event's keynote speaker, said that kind of confidence is important as Girls to Women participants go into the next stage of their education. Graves is close to finishing a large commissioned sculpture for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, shows her work at the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat and teaches art at The Lowell Whiteman School.

"It's not something that I typically would do, actually," she said of speaking for the event.

"But when I thought about what is important for eighth-grade girls to know, I thought I better do this, because if I don't I'm going against my own advice," Graves said. The event is about helping girls find the self-assurance to do things that are not easy for them, she said.

"They're at a starting place where people have been telling them what it is to be successful, and it's time to start challenging them to make their own idea of what it means to be successful."

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204

or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

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