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Worthington provides bioscience opportunities for neighbors to the north

Students pose with their petri dishes during a visit to Worthington's Bioscience Park on Friday. Pictured from left to right are Samantha Thuringer, Worthington High School; Breanna Anderson, Swan Valley Regional Secondary School, Swan River, Manitoba, Canada; and Kris Sattelberger, Hapnot Collegiate, Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada.

WORTHINGTON -- It's not clear whether Worthington's group of Canadian visitors actually brought the snow and sleet with them, but it made for a good joke Friday, as a group of science-minded students from Manitoba continued their tour of the community's bioscience facilities.

Four high-schoolers from Hapnot Collegiate in Flin Flon and Swan Valley Regional Secondary School in Swan River, Canada, spent Thursday and Friday visiting Newport Labs, JBS, Highland Manufacturing Inc., Heron Lake Bioenergy, and local wind turbines. With any luck, some Worthington students (like Worthington High School student Samantha Thuringer, who joined the group as a representative of the first Middle School Science Club class) will make it a true exchange soon, touring some of Canada's science facilities.

Due to concerns about disease control, the students had to settle for a virtual tour of Newport's production facility on Friday morning, but they still seemed enthusiastic as they recounted their trip.

"I really enjoyed the post-mortem on the pig; that was my favorite part. It didn't really freak me out that much," said Hapnot student Kris Sattelberger, who is considering a career in pharmaceuticals or human medicine. "It's still a good experience because pigs are similar to humans biologically."

This is the second time students from Manitoba have visited Worthington as part of a collaboration between the province and the state of Minnesota.

"It gives them such an opportunity to see the possibilities that are out there; it makes them think about what they could do and gives them ideas of the jobs out there," said Swan Valley teacher Lana Sagert. The schools currently implement standard biology curriculum, but the teachers said they are looking toward giving students more bioscience-related learning opportunities.

The group's leader was Norman Lee, an employee of the Manitoba government's Department of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines.

"It was actually recommended by MnSCU's (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities) chancellor's office that we actually come here and see what was going on here in terms of a community working together to support bioscience," said Lee. "Newport Labs gives them such a fantastic hands-on experience from the time they post-mortem the animal to developing the vaccines to manufacturing and packaging the product."

Though Lee is based in Winnipeg, he said he's interested in Worthington's rural bioscience efforts.

"Flin Flon is in a rural area and Swan Valley is also in a rural area and (we are) trying to understand how you set up a bioscience cluster in a rural area versus an urban area," he said. "We think that's a model that we should be following."