Sean Farnsley has spent the past two summers in a somewhat unconventional way for a teenager.
In school, or at least something resembling school, along with 102 other students.
Farnsley, a rising senior at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School, returned this week from a visit of Johns Hopkins University, a natural progression from the past two summers.
In the summer of 2018, Farnsley attended a National Youth Leadership Forum at Georgia Tech which featured a focus on medicine and prosthetics, an area Farnsley hoped to pursue.
His trip last month to the Sunshine State Scholars annual conference in Orlando, the county's lone representative, only reinforced that hope.
“Making connections, learning, the last two summers were definitely worth it in my opinion,” Farnsley said. “The Sunshine State Scholars conference made me want to pursue prosthetics even more.”
That is because a portion of the two-day conference was set aside for a look at prosthetics, the latest in technology and engineering that goes into the making of artificial limbs, etc.
An engineer working in prosthetics led the instruction.
The students even had the opportunity, by logging onto a website, to build their own prosthetic in the event of a loss of an arm.
Meanwhile, parents Diann and Aaron Farnsley were also learning.
“Parents had an hour-long presentation that was focused on the college process,” Diann Farnsley said. “It was very helpful.
“There was also a chance for scholars and parents to walk around and get information and pick up materials.”
The majority of the first day of the conference was spent in small group sessions, with students attempting to resolve one of four prompts.
As it would happen, Sean was selected for a group examining how to mitigate wildfires in the wake of a major hurricane, seeking ecological methods to address the problem.
“We looked at ways to restore and preserve what was restored,” Sean said.
Small groups became larger groups, let us consider the larger group something of a think tank on the issues, to provide a presentation of the material covered in the small groups.
“Most of the kids from areas affected by the hurricane worked on the introduction to the presentation because they figured it would more heartwarming,” Sean said.
“Most of the kids at the conference didn’t know what was going on up here. It was kind of annoying.”
Ultimately, the groups provided their presentation to parents and other educators.
Farnsley has a list of potential college destinations and is on track for the highest Bright Futures scholarship award.
He is also a varsity soccer player and will be undertaking his Eagle Scout project in the fall.