I'm very excited about today's post because not only do I get to share a wonderful story with you, but I also have an interview wi...

'The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures' and a Super STEM Spotlight


I'm very excited about today's post because not only do I get to share a wonderful story with you, but I also have an interview with an amazing female in STEM to share as well! Let's check out the book first and then you can meet Ms. Valente!

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"The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures" by Curtis Manley and Lucy Ruth Cummins is the sweet story of Roberta, a kind-hearted little girl who rescues all sorts of tiny creatures. If there's a beetle, caterpillar, bee, worm, or spider in need of help, you can count on Roberta! Unfortunately, many of her classmates think she's a little weird and gross touching all sorts of creepy crawly things. But then, hundreds of baby spiders hatch in their classroom and everyone panics! Everyone, that is, but Roberta. She knows just what to do to save the day. And in the process the other children might just learn how amazing tiny creatures can be!

Featured story: "The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures" by Curtis Manley and Lucy Ruth Cummins

Activity: Keep an eye out for tiny creatures who need rescuing! You can make your own paper box to catch bugs like Roberta and Maria (the video tutorial makes a different kind of box than in the book. If you have a copy of the book, there are instructions on how to make Maria's origami box at the end). And if you come across a larger creature who looks like it needs help, well, that's when it's time to call in backup - people like Ms. Valente!

I first met Amelia Valente when she worked with 4-H in our county (we were very sad when we heard she was moving one county over!). Ms. Valente did a presentation in our small animal club about her work with a Wildlife Rescue Center in NJ and also planned several Cloverbud Days (Cloverbuds are children in grades K-3) which were not only a whole lot of fun, but educational and science-based as well! One of the days was centered around space (and Lil C was super excited to be able to bring home a "spacesuit"!)

Another event was held at a farm and the kids spent a fun morning outdoors learning all about agriculture. We even got to take a tractor ride!

Now that I think she has been properly introduced, I will turn it over to Ms. Valente and let her tell you about herself and the STEM work that she does!

Hello! My name is Amelia Valente and I'm excited to share with you who I am, what I do as a hobby, what I do in my career, and how this all relates to STEM!

I grew up on the Jersey Shore exploring nature as much as I could, as I love animals and the environment. I was a 4-H member and I can say without a doubt that I wouldn't be in the place that I am in today without this organization. 4-H teaches hands-on learning with a strong focus in STEM. I attended 4-H programs that taught me about animal science, environmental science, agri-science, veterinary science, and more. I went to college at Delaware Valley University where I earned a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Animal Biotechnology. A few years later, I earned a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership and Development at the University of St. Francis.

I believe that it's great to have a hobby and to enjoy something that you like to do! I volunteer at a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in NJ. Orphaned and injured wild animals need special care which is why rehabilitation facilities exist. It is always the best plan to contact a wildlife rehabilitation facility if you find an animal that needs help rather than try to care for it yourself. STEM in 4-H and college taught me the skills in animal health, disease transmission, anatomy, physiology, and proper use of medical equipment that I use to care for these animals. It is an amazing feeling to watch an animal make a full recovery and get released back into the wild!

For my career, I serve as a 4-H Program Associate currently supervising Ocean County 4-H. I received this position through hard work and persistency (meaning, I kept going even during challenging days). This is a really cool job because I get to teach 4-H members about STEM through programs just like the ones I attended when I was a kid. One example of a program that involves STEM is when my colleagues (the people I work with) and I held a Mars Mondays in March, where we created a weekly program all about Mission to Mars to teach youth about STEM in space. We arranged for a scientist at NASA to talk to the participants and the woman said something to our group that I would like to share with you: "You do not have to be an A+ student to be someone who works in a STEM career, you just have to be a determined person no matter what your gender is."

My advice for any young person reading this - no matter what your passion is, so long as you are determined you will get there. A skill that I have a hard time with is math, but math can be found in many different parts of my job and hobby. In my job, I have to create charts with data. In wildlife rehabilitation, math is used to determine the correct dose of medication an animal needs. Fortunately, because I've made close connections with my teammates, they are always willing to help check and make sure my numbers are correct. In return, I am skilled in organization, so anytime someone needs help with organizing they come to me. I encourage you to focus on developing your skills in teambuilding and communication because they are your keys to success in STEM!

*Skunk Photo - courtesy of Wild Baby Rescue Center, Blairstown NJ