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Girls Just Want to Have Skill

INITIATIVE AIMS TO PLACE 2.5 MILLION GIRLS IN STEM WORKFORCE BY 2025 

BY MOLLY FLEMING 
PR COORDINATOR, OKLAHOMA CITY CHAMBER 

Katie Walker is the proud new owner of a Girl Scout vest, covered in badges showing off a variety of accomplishments. 

Walker isn’t a Girl Scout though. She’s a project manager for Lingo Construction Services, Inc., an AGC of Oklahoma Building Chapter member, who oversaw building the Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma’s new Camp Trivera in Oklahoma City. 

But Walker did more than keep everyone on task and the project moving forward. She inspired the next generation. 

The $12.2-million Camp Trivera is the second of eight STEM Centers of Excellence in the Girl Scouts of the U.S. system. The first center, Camp Whispering Cedars, is in northeast Dallas and the third is under construction in Oahu, Hawaii. The centers are being developed as the Girl Scouts of the U.S. work to put 2.5 million girls into the STEM workforce by 2025. 

In Oklahoma City, as the Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma started on its building, one requirement in the request for qualified proposals was that the Girl Scouts be allowed to work alongside the professionals. Four Oklahoma City-based firms were happy to show the girls the literal ropes and much more.  

“The girls were excited to be part of the project,” says Walker. 

Lingo, Rees architecture firm, CEC Corporation, an Oklahoma Municipal Contractors Association and Association of Oklahoma General Contractors member, Cooper Project Advisors and ZFI Engineering brought together a team of women to work with the girls and show them all the science, technology, engineering and math involved in construction. 

“Not many people think about all the STEM lessons involved in construction,” says Walker. “It was a good opportunity to show the girls about the industry.” 

Rees and Lingo partnered to host a fall break construction camp for the girls. The girls learned about pouring concrete and created pavers that were left at the camp.  

During the camp, Rees and Lingo worked with the girls to come up with the themes of each sleeping room. At the end of the camp, the girls had to present their design idea to the group. There are a variety of room styles, with the same diversity in themes, from caverns to chemistry. The Rees interior team designed the wallpaper for each room, based on the girls’ final designs.  

“Rees brought in an old travel trailer to use as a souvenir shop during camp,” says Walker. “They also used colored rope to create knots from floor to ceiling, which are knots the girls will learn to do. Those aren’t your typical building materials.  

“It was a team effort to bring everything together,” she adds. “Each part of the building has a unique feature, so it was a big puzzle to put it all together.” 

Lingo also helped keep the project within budget by using a pre-manufactured building, then worked with Rees’ design to add a second floor and bring in attractive and useful elements that help STEM remain at the top of mind. For example, the exterior-layered bricks can be used for a geology lesson and the rain gauges create sound when water runs through them.  

The girls not only learned about the building, but how to work on the site. Lingo President Stan Lingo says with the varied terrain, the project was challenging because the tree canopy and surrounding landscape couldn’t be disturbed that much. For Lingo superintendent Jordan Leach, who has a degree in environmental science, Walker says he was thrilled to figure out how to get all the components on the site without disturbing the trees. 

The 17-acre camp has three treehouses, primitive camping places and an outdoor amphitheater. Lingo employees built the treehouses themselves as a way to give back during the project.  

The construction science lessons aren’t over though. The girls can continue learning about buildings at the camp with its open ceilings, showing the duct work. All the air systems are labeled so the girls will know how each one is connected. There are similar signs in the bathroom.  

Other STEM-related features throughout the building include a rock wall in the meeting space. As the girls climb up the wall, labels point out the different layers of rock in the earth’s surface. Next to the meeting space is a large kitchen, which can be used by caterers for non-Girl Scout events or can be used as a place to learn about cooking, the tastiest STEM lesson. 

Another feature is the night-sky ceiling on the second floor. The Girl Scouts’ Astronomy Club placed the constellations in the ceiling. The outdoor pool offers a place for the girls to swim or work on underwater robots.  

But many STEM lessons will happen in the lab, a large room that has plenty of natural lighting with aluminum storefront and windows on the east and west side. There’s room to spread out microscopes or engineer the perfect contraption to keep an egg safe.  

Walker says she enjoyed being involved in the project. Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma CEO Shannon Evers praised Walker’s insight and guidance, in an email to Lingo. 

“She has a grasp on construction techniques, and she can communicate those skills to our field construction team,” says Lingo. “So she can perform in an executive committee meeting, yet command what’s needed in the field. She can be firm and not be rigid.”  

The camp opened in September 2020 and is having limited-attendance events. Lingo says it’s a legacy project and it will be a great benefit to the community.  

“It’s something that generations for years to come will get to enjoy,” he says.