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SAF Archives  search ask the scientists in the classroom cool science
David J. Anderson

Linda Bartoshuk

Malcolm Cohen

Jim Cordes

Bernd Heinrich

Richard Herd

Clément Imbert

Maja Mataric

Roger Quinn

Zandy Hillis-Starr

Sherri Steward

Manuela Veloso

Roy Walford

Rick West

Back to Cool Careers in Science
cool science

Photo of Sherry Steward Meet Sherri Steward.

She teaches kids about science, runs an EcoCenter at her school and travels to exotic places all over the world to help with wildlife research and special projects. How cool is that?!
Question What inspired you to become a science teacher?
Answer I've always been curious about how and why living things function. I also love working with young people who are enthusiastic and eager to learn; I think being immersed in such an atmosphere helps to keep up my own level of energy and enthusiasm.
Question What do you do during a typical day at work?
Answer I have the craziest schedule of anyone I know. Each day, I work with animals in our Wildlife Rehabilitation program at Grapevine High School. My students and I care for animals in our EcoCenter, such as raccoons, opossum, birds, peacocks, hedgehogs, etc. I maintain the EcoCenter and all its residents, as well as teach ecology classes. I am always involved in special projects, such as helping to build water wells in Africa, building a Veteran's Memorial Garden in the EcoCenter, and helping to raise funds for wildlife conservation. These projects, while consuming most of my time, are the most rewarding for me.
Question What do you enjoy most about your work? Is there anything about it you don't like?
Answer The thing I love most about my job, is working with animals and being able to travel to exotic places in the summer to participate in wildlife research. I have worked with orangutans in Borneo, chimpanzees in Africa, Leatherback Sea Turtles in the Virgin Islands, and in many other places with many different species. I also love the trips I take with my students. We have traveled to the rainforests of Costa Rica, Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, and many other places. I love teaching the students about nature and conservation.
Question If I'm a student thinking about a career as a science teacher, what can I do now to prepare?
Answer You should take lots of solid science courses to get a good background. I also think participating in field research activities would be a great way to get your feet wet. Check the Internet for places that offer internships, like Sea World, or Earthwatch, etc. Apply for every science scholarship that you can. Lots of high school teachers would love to have interns or student aides as "lab assistants." Don't be shy...ask! This may help you decide if you're cut out for a career as a science teacher.
Question Is there anything else you'd like to let Frontiers viewers know about yourself or your career?
Answer Some of the most rewarding experiences of my life have been with my students. My students and I actually raised enough money to build a water well for an African school and village. I traveled to Africa to help put the final touches on the well last August. When I think about it, I am amazed. Many of the children and teachers at the little school had died of cholera due to lack of clean drinking water. Look at what this handful of high school kids from Grapevine, Texas, have accomplished! There is no greater power than that of education, and I am very proud to have had the opportunity to make an impact on so many young people.

A few years ago, I made the decision to live by the words of Thoreau: "If you've built your castles in the air, then that is where they should be. Now put the foundation under them." I recommend that you follow your dreams, that you experience every bit of life you can. I can only tell you that the most wonderful events in my life (holding baby orangutans, sitting next to a mountain gorilla, standing on top of Kilimanjaro) have been accomplished as a result of some tough personal sacrifices. I would (and will continue) to do it all again!

If you would like to know more about Sherri Steward, you can read her biography and check out the questions she answered for Voyage to the Galapagos (Show 1001) in the Ask the Scientists section.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.