This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we wanted to introduce you to a few of our Zoo team members and get their insights on their fields. There are so many ways for women and girls to use their science degrees to impact the people and animals around them!
Meet Dee Maynard, our Education Coordinator for School Programs! To read more of our Women in Science stories, check out this link.
Position with Brevard Zoo: Education Coordinator, School Programs
Education: I have a BS in Secondary Education from the University of Central Florida and an MA in Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary. Although I completed all the coursework for an EdD in Leadership & Professional Practices from Trevecca Nazarene University, I did not complete a dissertation, so I am still working on that degree.
How did you choose your field? I have always loved teaching and decided as a very young child that I wanted to be a teacher. I have taught everything from preschool to college, but I really enjoy working with upper elementary and middle school students. After 20 years in the classroom, I moved into informal education at Kennedy Space Center and discovered that I love the “edutainment” dynamic – I get to use my performance skills and creativity to interact with students without the hassle of report cards!
Did or do you have any female mentors or role models in your field? If so, how did they shape your career journey? My second grade teacher was an amazing person who inspired me to become a teacher, but all of my science teachers in high school and college were men, so I didn’t have a female mentor. Two of my role models, though, are astronauts Wendy Lawrence and Barbara Morgan, phenomenal teachers and public speakers as well as accomplished scientists. I was fortunate to interact with them several times while I was at Kennedy.
How would you describe your work at the Zoo? Officially, I coordinate several programs including Zoo School, Club Zoo, and Jr. Zoo Crew (homeschool students). This means that I create lessons and design activities that are both educational and fun. In addition to training Education Specialists to deliver these programs, I get frequent opportunities to teach them myself – the Education Department thrives on teamwork so there is a great deal of cross-training.
What do you enjoy about your job? I am a chronic learner, and this position gives me so many chances to learn something new each day. As I work to create programs that engage and inspire students to pursue higher education and careers in the STEM fields, I am challenged not only to incorporate science but also to tie everything back to Brevard Zoo’s mission. I find so much joy in this type of creative energy, and love watching the students have those “aha moments” when the lessons go as planned!
What are some challenges about your work? Sometimes it is hard to get everything done and still find time to walk around the Zoo and check in with my favorite animals. I never want to get stuck at my computer, but I lose track of time when I am immersed in the flow of creation, so I often discover that I have worked right through lunchtime without realizing it.
What advice do you have for girls or women who want to work in your field? Learn as much as you can about as many things as you can. Read widely and experience all the great adventures that life has to offer! Don’t let yourself get bogged down in specialization – educators, and especially informal educators, need to be ready and eager to embrace new things because science is always finding something new and unexpected.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.