In the final stretch of autumn, as elk bugling trailed off, the longstanding program Young Women and Science lit up the Kelly Campus.

“This is so cool!” “Wow, that job sounds amazing.” Eighteen ninth grade girls gathered in Kelly for a week of science, leadership, hiking and friendship. They convened from across the Rocky Mountains and some areas of the Midwest around a love of learning – especially in the sciences.

Instructor and graduate student Grace Mynatt described her students as, “Connecting to place and to their peers to create a foundation of learning here, but also for their futures in science.”

Peer support created a foundation to think beyond Teton Science Schools and down professional paths. A smattering of guests throughout the week helped provoke questions and ideas related to careers in science. Shannon Barber-Meyer, a well-traveled wolf ecologist and penguin researcher, along with Rebecca Watters and Susannah Woodruff – wolverine researchers and wolf researchers respectively, and Milu Karp, a Conservation Research Center pika ecologist, rounded out an inspiring spread of women field ecologists.

Rob Backlund, a graduate student who worked closely with the students, summed up the program this way, “It’s an incredibly unique opportunity and experience for young women to be immersed, exposed to and supported in educational science and self-empowerment endeavors.”

Men still outnumber women in science careers. This program offers a pathway for girls as they aspire to be scientists.