Name: Jean Pennycook
Place of Employment: Einstein Fellow, Triangle Coalition Penguin Science
Job Title: Penguin Education Outreach Specialist
Education: BS, Wildlife and Fisheries Biology
MS, Science Education and Curriculum Development
After getting my degree in Wildlife Biology, I began a career as a secondary science teacher at the local high school. Twenty years later I decided to broaden my education outreach skills and started helping scientists translate their research for the K-12 community and public audience. Antarctica seemed like a great place to do this, so for the last ten years I have been going to 'the ice' working with the science community making their research and findings accessible to children. For the past six years I have worked on the Adélie Penguin team providing an interactive website for teachers to take their students on a virtual field trip to watch penguins raise their chicks and cope with changes in their habitat.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered during your career in STEM?
Finding the career that was best for me. Tried a few things until the one I loved showed up, but never gave up.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about having a career in STEM?
I love being in the field with penguins. Everyday I walk .5 miles from my tent to the breeding colony surrounded by a volcano, icebergs and penguins. They are extraordinary creatures to work with.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is considering doing a Silver or Gold Award based on STEM or pursuing a career in STEM, what would that be?
Decide what you want to do and then never give up in getting there. Follow the path you want, don't take NO for an answer.
Did you have STEM mentors?
I had career mentors who encouraged me to follow my interests and not get side tracked or discouraged. Keep going!
If you were a Girl Scout, what is your favorite Girl Scout memory?
The friendships I made, now over 50 years ago. We are all still very close, raised our children together keep in close contact and always will be part of each others lives. Better than sisters.
If you were a Girl Scout, did Girl Scouting have an impact on your decision to pursue a career in STEM?
Not so much the STEM part, but being a Girl Scout gave me the confidence to do anything I wanted to, be any person I wanted to be, achieve whatever I set my mind to. It was a confidence builder and then to have the support of the others all those years. We encouraged and supported each other through many career paths and life decisions.