Exciting, meaningful careers in STEM for women and gender minorities the focus of a new series presented by the EcoTarium

WORCESTER — The EcoTarium has found a new way to lead by example. On Monday, Feb. 22, the science and nature center introduces a series of conversations — Women and Gender Minorities in STEM — that demonstrate just how rich with opportunity STEM fields are.

Each of the monthly programs offers both a presentation by a speaker followed a few days later by a live Q&A with that speaker. Women and gender minorities with fun and fascinating careers will talk about the ways the work they love is linked to STEM. Careers in outdoor adventure, travel, food and guiding, for example, all have STEM at their core.

“As a STEM-based organization steeped in nature and the environment,” says Lucy Hale, EcoTarium president and CEO, “we want to say to women and gender minorities, especially, here are careers you can go into when you have an interest or education in STEM.” Further, says Hale, in Worcester and Massachusetts at large, “there is a growing need for more kids to see themselves in STEM careers including biotech, engineering and facets of manufacturing.”

The first program in the series is Monday, Feb. 22, and will be posted on the EcoTarium’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Lizzy Gallagher, an environmental scientist and science communicator, will talk about her how her guide work and science have interacted. She has led adventure excursions in numerous National Parks including the Everglades, a one-of-a-kind natural environment that is greatly endangered. As an interpretive guide on these adventures, she has shared information about the ways nature, the environment and the outdoor world is tied to STEM. She also has a keen interest in environmental restoration. Gallagher makes a return appearance on Friday, Feb. 26, at 4 p.m., when she meets her audience for a one-hour, live Q&A. This series is open to the public and free of charge.

Paige Curtis, organizer of this novel series, began her career in hiking and backpacking education. She led high-end outdoor adventures all over the country, first in skiing and backpacking, and later in cycling and kayaking. She was able to link her passions to her career. “Science in the outdoor world is where I found my niche,” she says.

“With this series, we can give a voice to people in STEM fields and also expose people who are in a position to go into STEM careers. There are so many options. We can help open doors to the world.”

To find speakers for this virtual programming, Curtis has enjoyed  her own journey of discovery. “I’ve really liked diving into the internet to find people, with things to share, who haven’t been given the loudspeaker they need. There are so many brilliant people in this world. It is thrilling to work with the EcoTarium to give these people a platform.

“Right now, especially, people are primed and ready for something new, different and exciting. In my experience, people love seeing someone who’s passionate and fresh. It inspires passion.”