Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Louisa May Alcott, Nellie Bly, Amelia Earhart, Sandra Day O'Connor, Rosa Parks, Barbara Walters, Hillary Clinton - these are famous women who have made a lasting impression in American history.
And yet there are thousands upon thousands of women, whose names remain unknown, working to better the world around them.

Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Louisa May Alcott, Nellie Bly, Amelia Earhart, Sandra Day O'Connor, Rosa Parks, Barbara Walters, Hillary Clinton - these are famous women who have made a lasting impression in American history.
And yet there are thousands upon thousands of women, whose names remain unknown, working to better the world around them.
This year's National Women's History Month hopes to add more names to the ever-growing list of women who have positively impacted the nation. The 2013 theme - Women inspiring innovation through imagination: Celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (referred to as STEM) - honors women who have served in these male-dominated fields.
Fort Polk's National Women's History Month observance - sponsored by the 162nd Infantry Brigade and Fort Polk Equal Opportunity Office - held March 15 at the Warrior Community Center, highlighted the work of five Leesville women - all serving their local community through innovation and imagination.
Special guest Donell Evans, head of the Leesville High School science department and one of two STEM and career technical education coordinators, described the significance of this year's theme.
"The STEM fields are collectively considered four technological foundations of an advanced society so the wonderful technological luxuries we enjoy in this country - especially with the millions of lives we have saved and will save in the future because of medical advancements - are from these skills," Evans said. "In many forms, the strength of the STEM workforce is an indicator of a nation's ability to sustain itself.
"According to the National Science Board in 2008, the United States is experiencing a chronic decline in homegrown STEM talent and is increasingly dependent on foreign scholars to fill the workforce and leadership roles."
Evans addressed the impoverished state of female representation in the STEM fields.
"A recent report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the number of jobs in STEM occupations will grow by 47 percent - three times the rate of all other occupations," she said. "American institutions have been trying to increase the number of women in STEM fields for years. However, it appears that girls are demonstrating a diminishing interest in high school STEM courses, shying away from pursuing science and math education in increasing frequency at a time when our country needs their talents even more."
From a teacher's perspective, Evans said, "Math and science courses require a high level of rigor and students don't understand the academic and financial value of these classes."
Evans believes students should apply the same rigorous practice and dedication they exercise in athletics to academic pursuits.
"When associated with academics, the idea of practice and dedication, through time and study, does not normally hold the same connection to success for high school students," she said. "Students should look at the financial security associated with the growth of STEM occupations especially since the work force for these occupations is shrinking."
According to the "Occupational Outlook Handbook," average STEM salaries range from $66,000 to $85,000 per year.
Three female LHS students were on hand to talk about their interest and work within the STEM realm. Juniors Devon Bennett, daughter of Kevin and Candy Bennett, and Reagan Koury, daughter of Mark and Rhonda Koury, were the overall winners of the LHS 2013 science fair held in February and received an honorable mention at the regional science fair.
Bennett and Koury detailed their experiment, "Garlic: More than vampire repellant" for the audience. The young women evaluated the effectiveness of garlic as a bacterial growth inhibitor.
Sophomore Victoria Doctolero, granddaughter of Randy and Margaret Pruitt, holds a number of science fair awards in the mechanical and electrical engineering division. Her presentation, diaphragms of speakers, outlined a thorough investigation of decibel intensity as sound passes through the flexible membrane of different materials. She is currently competing in the
international science fair with this experiment.
After high school, Bennett plans to major in nursing, Koury in biology and Doctolero in electrical and mechanical engineering.
Keynote speaker and Louisiana native, Betty Westerchil, rounded out the celebration. A self-proclaimed "lady of words, not numbers," offered to the audience her own inspirational story of innovation and imagination.
"I grew up in the small town of Winnfield, really in what was called Tannehill, where I loved to ride my bike, go barefooted in the red clay hills and shoot my BB gun with my trusted dog, Ring. We had no money, but I always knew I would go to college," she said.
Westerchil is a resident of Leesville and has had a long, storied career as a professional educator. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, she taught children for more than 21 years, and was later elected to the Vernon Parish School Board and served four terms.
She also presided over the Louisiana School Boards Association and attended the National School Boards Association Federal Network Relations in Washington, D.C., where she lobbied for public education.
During her service to the VPSB, Westerchil was also employed at Northwestern State University Leesville/Fort Polk as the community relations coordinator, which involved public relations and continuing education. In 2006, Westerchil was elected to serve as mayor of Leesville, the first woman to do so.
"Hopefully, I have opened the doors for other women to enter into the political arena and make their voices heard," she said. "I hope that they too, might step out of their comfort zones to meet goals of their own - and at the same time, help others."
While she has many professional responsibilities, Westerchil finds time to perform philanthropic work. She volunteers her services to her church, local boards and civic organizations.
"Do you have a goal, do you seek bigger and better or do you fall into the category of 'that's not my job?'" Westerchil asked the audience.
"People who make history are not waiting on somebody else to do it," she said.
Westerchil challenged members of the audience with the following anecdote:
"This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done."
Since 1987, Americans commemorate National Women's History Month every March. This month-long celebration - with programs and events that shine a spotlight upon the contributions of past and present American woman - honors the nation's strong matriarchal legacy in the hopes of inspiring females of tomorrow.
For more information about National Women's History month visit womenshistorymonth.gov and www.nwhp.org.