The Wyoming Youth in STEM organization in Riverton, Wyoming has been hosting annual conferences for youth in the 7th through 12th grades since 2004 with their first Women in Science conference. The group hosted their first Men in Science conference for the same age group in 2008. In 2017, the organization’s name was changed to Wyoming Youth in STEM, with conferences alternating between women (Women in STEM) and men (Men in STEM) for several years. Wyoming Youth in STEM strives to educate and inspire the youth of Wyoming to explore the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and career opportunities through various educational and learning activities; their efforts have made a significant impact on the youth of Wyoming.
Meet Our Team!
Peggy Peterson – Chairperson
Peggy always loved math and earned her B.A. in Finance from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA. Knowing there would be a career out there for her, she relocated to the front range of Colorado following graduation. She started her career with the Federal Aviation Administration and worked her way up to Airway Transportation System Specialist. The call of Wyoming brought her to the Riverton area in June 2003. She worked as an Electronics Technician for the National Weather Service until retiring in October 2021. She was instrumental in starting the Wyoming Youth in STEM program in 2004 and feels strongly enough about the Youth in STEM concept that she chooses to continue working with the incredible planning committee by bringing the wonderful world of STEM to the young people of Wyoming. She believes it is important to show students the importance and satisfaction of working in the dynamic fields that STEM has to offer. Peggy now enjoys farming, ranching, and raising Australian Shepherds and American Quarter Horses.
Geri Swanson – Co-Chairperson
Geri spent 26 years in the Air Force as a Meteorologist, traveling around the world, including stations in Germany, Alaska, and South Korea, as well as in California, South Carolina and Illinois. She even spent 4 years as an Instructor at the Military Weather School at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. She started working with the National Weather Service in 2009 as a Meteorological Technician in Cold Bay, Alaska, and then transferred to Juneau, Alaska. She moved to the Weather Forecast Office in Riverton, Wyoming in September of 2016. Here, Geri is the Observation Program Leader (OPL) and also works as the Climate Focal Point. She was very excited to become part of the STEM program here in Central Wyoming. She began with tackling the school and student registrations, and eventually became Co-Chair and the occasional emcee. Her main task remains the registrations, but she helps out wherever needed!
Brenda Majdic – Treasurer
Brenda worked as an actuary for actuarial consulting firms based out of Seattle, Washington and San Mateo, California for 29 years, before retiring in 2023. In 2002, Brenda moved to Riverton and spent the last 21 years of her career working remotely from here in Riverton. Brenda received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics, with a Statistics option and a minor in Economics from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. After graduating, she continued to study and take exams to attain her actuarial designations: Associate of the Society of Actuaries, Enrolled Actuary, Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, and Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. As an actuary, Brenda worked for clients that provide retirement benefits to their employees, including unions and public sector plans, and prepared IRS tax filings for these clients. Brenda joined Wyoming Youth in Stem in 2017 as a Board Member and became Treasurer a couple of years later. She enjoys helping with the annual conference as she feels exposing kids to careers in STEM may encourage them to take more STEM classes in high school and college. Brenda now enjoys practicing with and watching her son play baseball.
Celia Hensley – Secretary
Celia grew up on her family’s farm in southeastern Pennsylvania. She earned her B.S. in Atmospheric Science from Northern Vermont University – Lyndon, and has had a passion for science all of her life. Soon after graduating college, Celia moved to Riverton, Wyoming, where she currently works as a Meteorologist for the National Weather Service. She also manages the hydrology program and leads the social media team at the Riverton office. Celia has been a board member of the WY Youth in STEM program since 2020. She loves helping put on the annual conferences and her favorite part about working as a board member is being part of the mission to educate youth about STEM opportunities across Wyoming. In her free time, Celia loves being a Mom and a Wife, and spends much of her time at home with her family.
Kate Patterson – Board Member
Kate grew up in Lander, WY, and earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Wyoming, but upon completion, she had no idea how to use a math degree in the workforce. Instead, she became an information technology professional for UW. During these years, she began looking for something else…something more. She explored pre-med courses, enjoying cell biology and organic chemistry, and eventually found her way to mathematical biology. You see, there is a whole field of applied math where you model biological systems. In 2003 she left the workforce to start a new adventure at Montana State University in Bozeman where she earned a PhD in Mathematics while investigating gene regulation. In 2009 she talked her husband into quitting his job and moving with her to New Zealand where she accepted a postdoctoral research position at the University of Auckland modeling salivary gland cells and the effects of cystic fibrosis. They lived and worked in New Zealand for three years, learning about the culture and exploring the area. It was wonderful but the lure of small-town life and being closer to family brought them back home in 2012 and soon after they welcomed their daughter into the world. Kate has been teaching Mathematics at Central Wyoming College since 2012. She is also an advisor for students going into Mathematics, Computer Science, and/or Engineering, an advocate for STEM, and since 2019, a board member for Wyoming Youth in STEM.