C2ST — A Personal View

By Jessica Turner-Skoff

Almost every aspect of our day-to-day life is impacted by science and technology: from the food we eat, to the cars we drive, to our medical needs, to our interactions with each other (hello, online dating!). However, there is a lag between the use of science and the general understanding of it. That is the beauty of C2ST. For ten years they have served as a liaison to the public, by making programing and information available to the 8.5 million people of the Chicago metropolitan region.

In 2014, I was over a year away from finishing my doctorate in Biology and my career goals were shifting away from ecology research. I was looking for outlets to communicate my research to the general public and discovered C2ST as a fantastic platform for science. After receiving a competitive science communication fellowship, I realized my professional passion and calling was to increase the public’s appreciation and understanding of science.

After I gave one Speakeasy presentation, I was hooked on working with C2ST. Since then, I’ve been active in the organization. The more I learn about C2ST, the more I appreciate it. The staff is a dedicated team and they are deeply motivated to support their mission. They even took the time to participate in a networking trip to The Morton Arboretum so they could learn about our science and conservation research and practices. They seek advice and direction from all the right sources. The Board of Directors is a ‘who’s who’ of the Chicagoland Science and Technology world.

C2ST is multifaceted in their approach towards outreach, especially when you consider that they have an artist in residence and educator fellow. As an inaugural auxiliary board member, I’ve had the joy of seeing C2ST work to expand and engage new groups. This organization is a great way to network, develop new programming and content, and interact with a large audience. With a successful ten year track record, I’m excited to see what the next ten years brings.

Jessica Turner-Skoff
The Morton Arboretum

Despite starting her early academic career studying and working with animals, Jessica’s professional interest quickly became rooted in plants. Jessica has a diverse background that focuses on communicating science and promoting conservation with numerous stakeholders, including scientists, the general public, and non-profit organizations. Her dissertation research examined the conservation and sustainability of the rare, internationally important medicinal plant, American ginseng, especially how it relates to surface mining. In addition to her dissertation work, Jessica participated in a long-term research study investigating the impact of climate change on two plant species found in the tundra of northern Alaska. As The Morton Arboretum’s first ‘Treeologist,’ Jessica supports the Arboretum’s mission and vision to be the leading center of tree expertise by communicating and sharing expert knowledge. While centered in the Science and Conservation Department, she works closely with Education and Marketing to help catalyze tree advocacy by creatively making tree science, horticulture, and conservation relevant and accessible to target audiences.  

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