How do you like to spend your weekends?
If you’re anything like us, you might spend Saturday and Sunday with family or visiting friends. Perhaps a nice dinner out or some house cleaning will be involved. And on certain days, you might never make it out of your pajamas (yes, we all do this).
While I admit to being guilty of all these weekend activities, during the precious few months of Chicago’s summer, I spend my time with quite a colorful crowd — South American, African and Asian butterflies, to be specific.
As a seasonal staff member at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I spend my summer weekends supporting the Butterflies & Blooms exhibit. Each weekend morning, I arrive early to prepare the exhibit before it opens to the public. Some of my duties include maintaining proper sanitation, humidity and temperature for the butterfly chrysalis chamber (where butterfly pupae mature) to foster the adults’ healthy emergence. I also ensure the flowers, trees, and butterflies are ready to put on a good show for visitors. Basically, if anything looks unhappy, unhealthy, or out of place, it’s my job to give it an official horticultural and entomological makeover!
Hours later, when the visitors arrive, I answer questions about the names, life cycle, and unique features of the exotic butterflies fluttering around. By Monday, I’m physically drained, sporting a t-shirt tan and extremely thankful for air conditioning.
Life science marketer and butterfly wrangler (not my official title, but accurate) might seem unrelated, but they have more in common than you think. Watching visitors experience science first-hand, I am constantly reminded of why it’s so important to be able to communicate scientific concepts. People are naturally drawn to science because it helps explain who we are and the world around us. Whether it’s showcasing exotic butterflies or writing a list of top pipette tips, a successful science-based communications strategy should excite the people in your audience.
Though caring for insect pupae is probably a task few people would do voluntarily, I can’t resist the opportunity — proof that while I may have transitioned from a research botanist to a marketer, I will always be a science nerd at heart.
But the best part is, I’m not alone. Many of us here at Chempetitive Group are really just smooth talking science nerds. Before joining Chempetitive Group, account manager Brian Zehr cofounded Dekhon, a network of rural eye care facilities in India. Mention a chemical compound to our web developer, Matt Zanon, and he will use his molecular modeling kit to show you the structure up close.
Like myself, Todd Kuna (account director) and Ken Li (public relations director), are also former lab rats, each spending years researching cancer and cholesterol, respectively. Even account director Karen Sparks ensures her kids use protective eyewear while looking for jewels in their backyard.
We don’t want to brag or anything (okay, maybe we do), but we know science. And we love it enough to practice and promote it constantly.
As the summer season winds down and I come to terms with having my weekends back for all-day pajama parties and social outings, I — believe it or not — feel a sense of loss. We love science THAT much.