GrowNextGen coordinated a session for about 90 high school juniors from schools comprising the Southwest Ohio Bioscience Education Consortium (SWOBEC) at Southern State Community College in Washington Court House. Representatives from renewable fuels companies including Valero Renewables and Jatron, and BioOhio discussed their careers and increased awareness of bioscience job opportunities in Ohio. According to BioOhio, over 68,000 workers are currently employed in the bioscience field in Ohio, and the industry continues to grow, resulting in a demand for qualified and motivated employees.

Students also got a sneak peak into the lives of one bioscience career pathway—research and development—by designing polymer bouncy balls made from renewable plants. They then tested their prototype in a ‘bounce-off’ against their peers. Polymers, a class of materials containing products such as plastics and rubber, are typically made from nonrenewable fossil fuels, but can also be made from renewable materials, such as corn and soybeans.