Field Trips at Girls Inc.

While most summer days Girls Inc. members spend their time in centers, engaging in educational and hands-on activities, being able to venture off the campus can be exciting and refreshing. Among the many activities that happen at Girls Inc., field trips are a great way for the girls to experience new, exciting scenery, as well as the opportunity to experience a new learning environment. On these field trips, the girls are able to expand their minds and engage with their surroundings.

In the month of June alone, girls had the opportunity to attend field trips to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, Lauritzen Gardens, the Durham Museum and many more. July field trip offerings included Mahoney State Park, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, the Omaha Children’s Museum, and Arbor Day Farm. Field trips usually group the girls up into approproate age/grade groups and include a strong ratio of adult-to-girl chaperones in order to ensure safety along with the fun and education.

These field trips are educational, but they are also an important chance for the girls to relax and have fun – to be kids! Field trips create the foundation for a fun and enticing summer for girls in both centers in North and South Omaha.

Larger field trips at Girls Inc are funded by the Peter Kiewit Foundation which allows the many more girls to attend. Transportation is also always provided for the field trips through the support of the Foundation, which ensures access for all girls to attend.

Eureka! Externships at Girls Inc.

At Girls Inc. girls have many opportunities to be succeed and one of the most impactful opportunities is the Eureka! STEM (Science, Tecnology, Engineering, and Math) program. Eureka! was founded in 1988 at a California Girls Inc. affiliate to help older participants of Girls Inc. succssfully access college and other post-secondary education in order to transition to independent, self-sufficient adulthood. Girls Inc. of Omaha is one of the fourteen Girls Inc. affiliates to offer this program.

The Eureka! program, which is free for participating girls, is split into three parts; Summer Camp; externships; and college and scholarship prep. Girls begin the Eureka! program as rising 8th graders with a STEM Camp at University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO). The camp runs for two summers, spanning into the girls’ 9th grade year. The camps, which run the full month of June on the UNO campus, provide the girls with STEM education and hands-on challenges in computing, robotics, aerodynmaics, engineering, biology, botany, and more. The girls learn from professionals in those fields and UNO professors, graduate students, and interns. They also gain experience in health, leadership, advocacy, and personal development. While at the camp, the girls get a chance to take swimming lessons, either learning to swim or to improve their existing swimming skills. After the camps, the girls participate in monthly STEM and/or social experiences throughout the school year. They participate in field trips that include the Henry Doorly Zoo and watching the Sandhill Crane migration in Wood River, Nebraska, and they also go to the movies and have sleepovers.

In their 10th and 11th grade years, the girls participate in what is known as an externship. In this program, they gain real-world experience working in a field of their interest. Some companies are gracious enough to donate a stipend for the girls, so not only are they gaining experience in the work field, they also earning compensation for their time. Girls Inc. provides transportation to and from externship sites if needed. The externshop experience has given many girls an opportunity to see themselves in the professional field of their dreams, and empowered and helped them attain their career goals.

Prior to and during 12th grade, the girls work on college readiness. They complete FAFSA student aid forms, work on scholarship essays, research school choices online, tour campuses, and speak with financial aid officcers.

Girls Inc. graduated its eighth cohort of girls from Eureka! in 2019 and they will be the third cohort to head to college in the fall.

Thanks to all of the companies that hosted girls as externs for 2019. Below is a complete list of those companies:


Aquaponics at Girls Inc.

Chickens are not the only animals being raised at Girls Inc. When you venture around the different buildings, on the second floor, there is a room marked aquaponics. Aquaponics is not a word you encounter every day and when looking at it from the outside, it looks quite complicated. Though it seems intricate, it is simply comes down to the idea that the plants and fish are growing and living together in one environment. The fish make food for the plants to eat and in return, the plants clean the water that the fish live in. It is a constant cycle that ensures that both organisms have a healthy life. This programs helps not only create a fun learning environment for the girls, but turns science into a fun way for the girls to learn about life and biology. Girls are able to feed the fish and water the plants, learning how to properly care for the environment in which the organisms can thrive!

New Additions to Girls Inc.

There have been some new faces added to the Girls Inc. community. On June 20th, one of the Girl Inc. chickens, Mr. Joe as named by the girls, hatched five baby chicks. The baby chicks are adored by all and visited on a daily basis. Last summer, the building of a chicken coup began, which would provide a home for the chickens. Having these chickens on the campus has provided the students with the opportunity to have something that they can nourish and care for. They feed them and, along with Mr. Michael, make sure that the chickens are comfortable in their home and live a good life.

Eureka Graduation – Vet Rep


Jaylin’s remarks from the Eureka! Summer 2019 graduation:

Hello, my name is Jaylin Sims. I’ve been given the opportunity to share my experiences at Eureka! with the audience today.

First, I’d like to thank Ms. Emily for giving this opportunity to me and I am truly honored. I’d like to also thank the Eureka! and UNO staff members, as it was they who made Eureka! accessible and better. Lastly, I’d like to thank my family, they’ve been my rock since day one and I wouldn’t know where I would have been without them.

My memories at Eureka! have been amazing. Eureka! focuses on the empowerment of women in fields where women are underrepresented. The science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM program helps us achieve knowledge and keep the skills that we’ve learned in mind throughout our adolescent lives.

Throughout this month, I’ve built poignant relationships with my peers and younger classmates. Since the rookies are younger than us, I’ve had to step up into the big sister role of guiding them through Eureka!. They didn’t need much guidance because our amazing staff helped all of them throughout the camp. I’ve gotten to talk and interact with many of the younger girls, and I can say that I consider all of them my little sisters.

 I’ve also made impactful relationships with the older girls/ Vets. Girls I hadn’t known, I’ve become great friends with. Vets I didn’t think would like my personality, had become some of my closet friends. Eureka! has given me the convenience of having devoted friends, which has benefitted me emotionally and mentally. These girls have become some of the most essential people in my life and I consider all of them my family.

Eureka! has not only given me positive relationships, but it has also advanced my learning skills. During the month at Eureka!, we would have classes from 10:00 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. through 2:00 p.m., and in those few hours I learned a great deal. Eureka! has improved many of my skills by inserting easier steps to get to the solution, both in life and in geometry. I understood science better by being in Eureka!; I was one of the few girls at the top of my honor classes this year in school. Eureka! programming helped me achieve an A in geometry class.

I’ve loved them the two years that I’ve been at Eureka! – from learning about business to being able to create a substance which could, in fact, protect us from a zombie apocalypse one day. I can’t wait to go on this journey through high school with these girls by my side. All of you have impacted me greatly, and I am proud of each one of you for graduating today!

Eureka! Graduation – Rookie Rep


Ke’Ijha’s remarks from the Eureka! Summer 2019 graduation:

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Ke’Ijha Hadley and I am a Eureka! Rookie. Before I get started, I would like to thank some people. I would like to thank my mom for pushing me to sign up for Eureka! and my god mom for providing me with transportation. I would also like to thank all the Hannahs, Ms. Unek, Ms. Courtney, Ms. LIz, Mr. Dario, Ms. Marquita, Ms. Emma, Ms. Sarah, Mr. Will, Ms. Torri and all the student teachers and UNO staff, and Ms. Emily for accepting me into this program. I would also like to thank Maria and her parents for telling me about Eureka! Lastly. I would like to thank all of my fellow Eurekans for sharing these experiences with me.

When I first heard about Eureka! I wasn’t sure I wanted to join because it would take up a lot of my summer. However, what made me interested in Eureka! were all the different activities and projects we would get to do. I figured Eureka! Would keep me busy and I was right.

I got a little better at coding. I learned how to make clothing out of duct tape, even if it wasn’t the prettiest clothing. I also learned a lot during biomechanics. Dr. Cooper taught us that we share 60% of our DNA with bananas.

I think my overall favorite thing I did this summer in Eureka! was the high-altitude ballooning. We sent a high-altitude balloon into near space. My group and I chose to make ooblek, which is a non-Newtonian fluid. On Earth at a normal altitude ooblek has properties of both a liquid and a solid. Once you send ooblek into near space on a high-altitude balloon, when it comes down it is just a solid. That was my favorite activity this summer.

I plan to do a lot of things with the new knowledge I gained this summer. One thing I know I will do is listen to what Mr. David told us during personal development. If we want something done, we have to be the ones to do it.

Ms. Sophia Says Goodbye!

Ms. Sophia and Happiness Hour girls.

When I was applying to jobs during my senior year of college, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I knew I was interested in education, psychology, writing, and women’s rights, but I didn’t think I would be able to find anything that would allow me to explore all these different areas at once. Then I heard about the Weitz Fellowship at Girls Inc. of Omaha. “Every day will be different,” I was told in my interview, and it was true. Over the past year I’ve had a huge variety of experiences through which I’ve been able to develop skills in all my interest areas and more.

Through my fellowship I have had the freedom to create multiple projects on my own. One of the most challenging yet rewarding projects I worked on this year was my Happiness Hour club for teens. I was a Psychology major in college, and I based my Happiness Hour club on a course in positive psychology that I took in my senior year. I wanted to be able to create a space where the teens could practice strategies for self-care and dealing with negative life events, and also discuss issues in their lives that are important to them. Although at first it was challenging, it was a valuable learning experience to be forced to apply what I had learned in a classroom setting to the real world. I was pushed to be creative in developing engaging activities for a younger age group and finding ways to make our club sessions interactive and hands-on. The club has been going on the whole school year, and it’s been so rewarding to see the same girls coming back each week and taking an active role in developing the club.
My favorite project to work on has been my Harry Potter book club for 4th and 5th graders. It was fun for me to introduce my favorite book series to girls for the first time and to see them get excited about getting sorted into their houses, making pom-pom owls, and trying Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored beans. Harry Potter inspired a lifelong love of reading for me, and I hope it does the same for the girls in my club.

Other projects that I worked on this year involved writing psychology lesson plans, teaching statistics to teens in a Giga Girl pilot project for Girls, Inc. national, and working with graduating seniors on scholarship essays. Through all of these experiences I’ve gotten a better sense of what I enjoy doing, where my skills lie, and how I can use my knowledge to help other people. I probably would not have been able to find another post-college job that would have given me so much freedom to explore my various interests. I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life, but I’ve gained much more information about myself and the world to help me make that decision.

Goodbye for now to Girls, Inc. and Omaha! I will miss my girls!

– Sophia Jenkins

Tori – former Eurekan!, now a Noyce Intern working with Eureka!

After coming back to Girls Inc’s Eureka! Camp, I have learned so much. The last time I was here, I was a Eurekan, or student. Now that I’m in college and a Noyce intern, I am assisting these wonderful girls explore STEM in-depth, like I did. When I was attending Eureka! as an eighth grader, I found my love for design. I can truly say Eureka! encouraged me to pursue a career in a STEM-related field. I am currently earning a degree in architectural engineering at UNO. Being on the other side of this summer program, I have come to realize how much time and effort goes into making and planning the activities for the month. After contributing to making lesson plans weeks in advance, I respect the staff for their vast amounts of hard work.

I also noticed the difference in the Eureka girls versus when I attended. Unlike my years at the summer camp, all of these girls were intrigued by the shark dissections, excited about the Biomechanics Lab, eager to learn about astronomy, and so much more. I was amazed at how the professors would give them a task, and how diligently they worked at trying to complete it.

Since this was my first year in being an intern for Eureka!, I was nervous about teaching eighth and ninth graders. Luckily for me, these girls treated me with respect and we all have such a close bond. Throughout the program I learned I was more than an intern, I was an ally. They talked to me about their college interests, questioned me about life on campus, and asked me about my school schedule. Each of their personalities are so unique and lovable. I will truly miss these girls.

[To read Tori’s thoughts about Eureka! after her very first summer (six summers ago!) click here. Tori is an example that “sustained exposure” to programming can create long term, positive impact!]