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A Passion for Science Education

A passion for science education led Linda Jeschognig from her life in accounting to a second act as an entrepreneur. She talks about the inspiration behind Hands-on Labs and overcoming the obstacles with a company created to send kits containing hydrochloric acid, cobalt nitrate and other hazardous elements to college chemistry students. Along the way, Jeschofnig has gained support and reached out to guide other women on the entrepreneurial path. Created by Kauffman Foundation.

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Video transcript

- My name is Linda Jeschofnig. My company is Hands-On Labs. My husband and I are both retired educators. Peter was a science professor and I was an accounting and business professor. Years ago when we were living in Leadville, Colorado, Peter had a lot of students that just couldn't get across the mountain passes to be in labs. We developed this science kit that really does replicate the exact kind of experiments, utilizing the exact same chemicals and supplies that students would do on campus. The only difference is that they utilize small quantities that are safe, that can be shipped even though they are potentially hazardous chemicals like hydrochloric acid, cobalt-nitrate, things of that nature. When I started this it was me and I wasn't really out to make a big profit. We were just trying to cover our costs. Now I've got like 50 people whose lives and families depend on us running this company well. Plus hundreds of colleges and universities across the US whose students really need what we do. So there's an obligation, there's a responsibility. But we feel good about what we do. Today my role is more one of promoting science education and helping the people who work for us to do their jobs well and continue to make our products even more effective. I feel like Andre Previn directing now rather than my being in the orchestra and playing an instrument. Another advantage of being an entrepreneur is it gives you the opportunity to live your values. And our legacy is that we are serving quality science education. We're helping to reduce science illiteracy in the world. Not only am I doing something that I feel proud of, but it's given me the opportunity to make friends with other women entrepreneurs that share my issues and we can talk openly about them. I think a lot of girls especially my generation, are brought up thinking men have some kind of secret knowledge we don't know about and sorry guys, I've learned that's not true! (laughing) If you're surrounded by bright women who understand, they've been there, they have the same problems, having that support of other female entrepreneurs has been invaluable to me.