Name: Tammy Schwab
Place of Employment: Fairfax County Park Authority
Job Title: Manager of Education and Outreach
Education: BS Biology, Shippensburg University of PA
MS Zoology Miami Univeristy of Ohio
I have always loved animals and wanted my career to allow me to work with and learn about animals. I was a girl scout growing up and really enjoyed the time it allowed me to spend in nature especially at camp. As I grew up and studied the science of life I began to realize that I loved sharing my passion for wildlife with others as much as I liked learning it myself. Over my career I have worked for many types of nature organizations and having my master's degree in Zoology definitely gave me an advantage over other applicants. I have worked for non-profits like NWF and for government organizations like the national park service and now the county parks. I get to spend my days thinking of ways to share my love of nature and biology with others in a fun way in the hands-on programs we have in our parks. I hope to inspire a girl the same way I was inspired during one of my many trips to the forest.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered during your career in STEM?
It was hard to choose what to do with my degree. I was torn between working in the laboratory and researching fascinating biology fact or working in the field. I finally chose the field but then fond my self choosing between formal school education teaching college biology or informal education interpreting nature in a park
What do you think is the most exciting thing about having a career in STEM?
I love being a scientist and having the skills to understand how research works so when a new study comes out on any subject I can understand how they tested their hypothesis and make decisions on my own about what that might mean to me.
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?
I would encourage girls to seek out volunteer and internship experiences as early as possible these are safe fun ways to explore science and it's many careers and sometimes it is as important to find out what you don't like as what you do like.
Did you have STEM mentors?
Had had a great High school AP biology teacher who was a woman. She was very encouraging and was the first to introduce me to informal environmental education as a career by arranging a field trip with the Chesapeake Bay foundation with hands on field work in the bay.
If you were a Girl Scout, what is your favorite Girl Scout memory?
I loved sleep away camp. One night we went on a snipe hunt tromping through a meadow looking for an animal that wasn't even there. Some people might have been upset to find but there was no such thing as a snipe but, I loved spending time in the meadow, the thrill of the hunt, and exploring the grassy field and it inhabitants.