The 16th annual Girls in the Middle Conference will be held on Saturday, March 1, at Otero Junior College.

The 16th annual Girls in the Middle Conference will be held on Saturday, March 1, at Otero Junior College from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The theme of the conference this year is "Diamond in the Rough," and will encourage middle school girls to dig into the mines of math, science and technology. The theme will be carried out throughout the day in workshops for the girls. Registration will open for both middle school girls and adults who accompany them on Feb. 3 at 8 a.m. and close on Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. All registrations will be taken online at The goal of the conference is to encourage middle school girls to continue studying math, science and technology once they enter high school. Last year 140 girls from 11 schools as well as homeschooled students in southeastern Colorado attended the conference to learn more about careers that require an educational background in math, science or technology. This year's conference is expected to host at least 15 different career workshops that will be taught by women who are working in those careers. A few of the workshops confirmed for this year's conference include: Agriculture Science, Astronomy, Biology, Digital Media, Civil Engineering, GPS Mapping, Information Technology, Medical Lab Technician, Surgical Technician, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Veterinary Science. The keynote address, to be presented by Luisa Graff, gemologist and owner of Luisa Graff Jewelers, will relate her inspiring story of resilience and overcoming hardship to follow her dreams. Following Graff's keynote address, the girls will attend two workshops in the morning, enjoy a lunch filled with activities, and then participate in interactive team building activities in the afternoon. Katie Lovejoy and Nika Wang, OJC students working toward Associate of Science degrees, participants in the President's Leadership Program and members of the women's soccer team, will serve as mistresses of ceremonies. Assisting with activities will be team leaders made up young women who are students at OJC, including members of the President's Leadership Program and OJC women's athletic teams. The Girls in the Middle committee is comprised of professional women from the surrounding communities and Otero Junior College. The $5 fee for the conference for students includes breakfast, lunch and a T-shirt. Adults may also register for the conference for $5, which includes breakfast and lunch. Registration for the girls and adults can be made online starting on Feb. 3 at 8 a.m. The conference is open to all middle school girls in the area. Registration will close on Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. For more information contact Sarah Petramala, STEM grant program assistant at Otero Junior College, at (719) 384-6974.