TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan State Police Trooper Shelley Izzard stood before a roomful of 10th grade girls and fished the tools of her trade from a black riot bag: gas mask, helmet, and wood baton.
“We had to use this equipment during the protest in Lansing against the right-to-work law,” said Izzard, a pretty blonde who has been on the force for 16 years.
Izzard took the baton and pressed it against Katie Stowe of Glen Lake High School, demonstrating how to push back protesters.
Izzard was one of nine women who talked about their work at Wednesday’s girlTECH seminar, now in its 13th year. The seminar intends to inspire girls to explore nontraditional careers and learn about related coursework at the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center and Northwestern Michigan College.
The Hagerty Center event drew almost 200 10th grade girls from the five-county Grand Traverse region.
Izzard, one of about 130 women enlisted with the state police, said her training involved doing 301 push-ups without stopping.
“We train all the time because we save people from the water, pull them out of burning cars, give first aid, and I do it side-by-side with a man. We learned how to drive a car as fast as it can go … I’ve caught every bad guy I’ve ever chased,” she said. “I used to have people tell me, you’ll never do it. I am doing it, and I’m making a difference in the world.”
Roberta Wagner of Cone Drive Gearing Solutions discussed engineering in a way that Danielle Merwin of Suttons Bay could appreciate.
“She talked about putting 400 pounds per-square-inch of pressure when you’re wearing high heels,” said Merwin, who is interested in biomedical engineering. “That compares to five pounds per-square-inch when you’re wearing flats.”