Sometimes gummy bears just need to be lit on fire. Sometimes skunks need to be petted. Sometimes a classmate needs to be duct-taped to a handrail.


Boys will be boys, they say, and last Saturday, Sept. 24, all over UVU campus, the Empowering Your Tomorrow boys’ conference helped hundreds of local children get excited about their futures.


The conference for 6th-12th grade boys kicked-off at 7:30 Saturday morning and ended later that afternoon. The day featured interactive booths, professional workshops, lunch and a keynote speech by Dr. Steve Wasserbaech. Wasserbaech is a professor of Physics at UVU and grew up in Salt Lake City. He envisions a bright future for local youth.


“The sky’s the limit for people from Utah,” Wasserbaech said.


The sky indeed was the limit for those boys who attended the aviation workshop. Gummy bears were roasted in the chemistry workshop, and a survival challenge in the outdoor recreation workshop ended with a boy suspended from a rail by duct tape.


The boys who attended the zoology workshop met Reeky Ricardo, a striped skunk from the exotic rescue facility Wild Wonders. Sarah Jacobsen, owner of the Wild Wonders facility, was just one of dozens of educators and professionals who volunteered their time and effort at the conference.


The boys arrived accompanied by parents and teachers from schools across Utah. James Hansen from North Summit said he enjoyed meeting the Highway Patrol trooper and attending the criminal justice workshop. His younger brother Jared, however, enjoyed the architecture workshop the most. A wide range of workshops from forensic science to automotive technology allowed the boys exposure to a variety of careers.


The Equity in Education Center and Turning Point at UVU organized the event under the direction of Jennie Briggs. Briggs hopes the boys were excited about the conference and that they took advantage of the available resources.


“There are virtually unlimited options for them to pursue and it’s right here at their fingertips,” Briggs said.


The Empowering Your Tomorrow conference is molded after the girls’ conference Expanding Your Horizons, which will hold its 26th annual event next March. Some feel that young people often miss opportunities like these. Signe Fugal, a cultural anthropology major and work-study student in the Equity in Education Center, didn’t know these conferences existed when she was younger.


“I just wish that I had had this opportunity,” Fugal said. “If I would’ve known I would have loved to come to see what I wanted to do with my life.”


In a college atmosphere where students frequently switch their majors, conferences like Empowering Your Tomorrow seek to point these youth in the right direction early and give them a head start. Some educators believe that these kinds of resources could be vital to success in higher education.


“These people that are coming today are coming on a day off when they have all kinds of other things to do,” said Gwen Anderson, director of UVU’s Multicultural Center. “They’re taking advantages of opportunities that the university is giving them.”


News Writer