March 19, 2020 Network Meeting


Broadening Participation in STEM in Rural Communities

This quarterly IM STEM Network Meeting focused on strategies for increasing the participation of underrepresented students in STEM in rural communities. Programs that have been successful in working in rural communities to expand STEM education opportunities for students at the state, regional and local level were also highlighted.


Brian Mitchell, Director of the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology, Governor’s Office, Nevada

Brian Mitchell was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval as Director of the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology. In this role, Mr. Mitchell advises the Governor on STEM education, workforce, and economic development policy, staffs the STEM Advisory Council, and oversees the mapping and development of broadband in Nevada. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Mitchell served as an education advisor to Governor Sandoval during the 2015 legislative session. Before moving to Nevada for the session, Mr. Mitchell served as a senior advisor to Governors Sandoval and Gibbons in the Governor’s Washington DC office, representing the state to Congress and the executive branch on education, healthcare, and homeland security issues. Mr. Mitchell graduated from Brigham Young University and lives in Carson City with his wife and three children. With a growing need for a workforce skilled in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) across Nevada, the state’s new Regional STEM Networks aim to increase student interest and achievement in STEM within the classroom and grow partnerships outside of the traditional classroom to support students. Brian Mitchell will discuss how the creation of Regional STEM Networks will broaden participation in STEM in rural areas.

Dr. Michael Stanton, Director ECHO for Education, University of New Mexico, New Mexico

Dr. Stanton is the director of the ECHO for Education projects at the ECHO Institute in the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center. Dr. Stanton has been a local, regional, and national consultant providing coaching, facilitating workshops, and sharing best practices in organizational development, project management, and adult learning. Dr. Stanton earned a PhD in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology from UNM. He has 28 years of experience in education as classroom teacher, high school innovation teacher leader, national consultant for high school redesign in small learning communities and career academies. He has experience in school administration as assistant principal, and later founder and principal of a successful high school of choice for Albuquerque Public Schools - nex+Gen Academy. Dr. Stanton is an adjunct professor for the University of New Mexico in the College of Education, Leadership Department. ECHO for Education: Equity-Focused Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Pathways is the vision of a partnership with the UNM Health Science Center’s ECHO Institute and the NM Public Education Department’s College and Career Readiness and STEM Bureaus. Based on the successful Project ECHO model of virtual communities of practice, ECHO shares best practices and offers case-based learning where all teach and all learn. This presentation provides and overview of Project ECHO for Education, describes the impact over the past three years of implementation on teacher expertise and reducing disparities in remote, isolated learning communities. Also the plan for The ECHO for Equity-Focused STEM Pathways to be launched in School Year ‘21 in New Mexico as a model for regions across the US will be shared. By increasing teacher involvement and expertise in STEM related programs for their schools through ECHO for STEM participation, students in even small rural communities will have the opportunity to follow a path to STEM college programs and careers.

Sunshine Shepherd, Site Director, AIS Prep Idaho State University, Idaho

Sunshine Woman With Two Lives Shepherd is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe from Fort Hall, Idaho and an advocate for education at all levels on her reservation and through Indian Country. She is currently a Masters of Public Administration student studying at Idaho State University graduating in May. Sunshine is also the Site Director for American Indian Services Pre-Engineering Program at Idaho State University. As Site Director for the past year she has seen the positive impact the program has had on her community and is excited to see where the program will go. She has two small children, Troy (5) and Storm (2). The American Indian Services Pre-freshman Engineering Program (AIS PREP) is a free STEM summer program for minority, underrepresented middle school students, which provides three summers of rigorous academic instruction in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), educational hands-on projects, challenging homework assignments, and daily career awareness lectures. PREP’s academically demanding STEM content has been proven to raise test scores and help students prepare for their advanced high school courses. This program is executed on 6 different reservations at this time.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1744472. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation