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Meet Stephanie Spence!

Meet Stephanie Spence, conservation writer and sci-fi podcast author!

Hi, I'm Stephanie Spence!

What kind of work do you do?

I’m the Communications and Development Coordinator for the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club. Our chapter is dedicated to the conservation of wild places in Illinois, as well as promoting clean energy, safeguarding clean water and air, and protecting communities from pollution.
My role is communicating the message of environmental protection to politicians, residents, and our members. I design pamphlets on issues like invasive species, blog about bobcats, and manage our websites and social media. The big questions my job raises are issues like how do you get people emotionally engaged on scientific topics, like water disinfection? How do you make climate change understandable and local? How do you convey the importance of an endangered plant or animal?
Logo of a buffalo holding a sign that says "No Illiana: Protect the Midewin Prairie."
Logo I designed for the “No Illiana” project, which was fighting an expensive toll road that would cut through pristine prairieland.

How did you become interested in biology, and what did you study?

I was a huge Animal Planet nerd growing up. I was way more excited about Venus flytraps and dewclaws than most ten-year-old girls. In college I doubled down on my fascination with animals (and those strange animals we call humans) by majoring in Environmental Studies with double minors in Writing and Public Health. My studies really dovetailed into the work I do now; I feel extraordinarily lucky. But don’t tell my mom—I planned it all this way!
Stephanie holding a tiny crustacean with a lake in the background.
Stephanie in front of a very tall cliff on a beach.
Me at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.

What do you do for fun in your spare time?

I knit, cook, throw ceramics, bake lopsided little loaves of bread, dweeb out about my houseplants, and draw. I also write—my first book with Scholastic is being published this spring. I’m also a writer for the podcast Our Fair City, which is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi comedy/drama.
The Our Fair City writers and narrator.

What’s your one piece of advice for people interested in biology?

Find a fun way to engage with biology—whether you snap photos of funky insects or draw comics about sharks, there are so many ways to enjoy learning about nature.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Andrea De Las Casas
    I have really considered your career path for a future since I am currently studying biology. In paragraphs 1 and 2, you mention that you work in promoting clean energy, safeguarding clean water and air, and protecting communities from pollution. I always wonder if I would miss studying living organisms if i took this path, but I feel that it could be a very satisfying path to take since investigating and actually taking action in the conservation of the planet and its living things are two different things. How did you know you wanted to be a voice for the scientific community in aspects of conservation and pollution control?
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user