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?

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!

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.

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.