"Explore your horizons in what you can do with a math and science degree," environmental lawyer, Courtney LeBoeuf, told the more than 300 girls, during her keynote address at last Saturday's Tri-Valley Expanding Your Horizons career conference in San Ramon. This year's theme was, "Learn -- Explore -- Experience -- Dream."
Le Boeuf, a Bay Area native and graduate of Tracy High School, earned a bachelor's degree in environmental biology and management from U.C. Davis. Early on, she wanted to be like Jane Goodall and study animals. During college, she even traveled to the forests of South America to conduct research on monkeys. But, soon she decided that the field of biology was not for her.
Le Boeuf revealed that her interest in studying law was sparked soon after she saw the movie, "The Pelican Brief," a legal suspense thriller based on the John Grisham novel. She received her J.D. degree from Tulane University Law School. As an environmental lawyer at Edgcomb Law Group in San Francisco, she combines her love of science and nature with law and helps companies figure out how to clean up properties, or protect land that may be threatened by development.
"There are so many things you can do," LeBoeuf said. She encouraged them to look beyond traditional science and math careers, and gave some examples: science writer for magazines, newspapers and textbooks; science artist; and consultant for television, movies, or governmental agencies.
At the conference, girls in grades six through nine were part of more than a dozen hands-on workshops that covered a wide range of topics including: environmental geology, fingerprinting, DNA, chemistry, veterinary medicine, computers and robotics.
A career fair was held during the noon hour that gave opportunities to meet role-models -- scientists, engineers and representatives from local companies and organizations -- to learn more about their careers.
Tiffany Burkle, a science teacher at Livermore's Junction Avenue Middle School, accompanied 75 girls from her classes to the event. The Livermore Rotary Club helped provide two buses to transport the girls to the conference. This was the first year such a large group from Junction was able to take part.
Burkle said she was surprised at the high level of interest. "The girls have been talking about EYH non- stop for about a month. I'm excited to see my students get so excited about science," she said.
Organizing sponsors of the 32nd Tri-Valley EYH included Sandia National Laboratories/California, Lawrence Livermore National Security, Diablo Valley College, San Ramon Campus and the American Association of University Women.