Why combining diversity with STEM is a good thing for kids

Rae Wynn-Grant tracks lions through the Tanzanian savanna and bears across North American forests. As an African-American large carnivore ecologist—and mother of a daughter—the Nat Geo fellow has an important perspective on getting girls and kids of color excited about STEM. She talked to Nat Geo Family about her experience as a Black woman in science, why diversity in STEM is so important, and how to get children excited about learning.

NAT GEO FAMILY: What made you want to become a wildlife biologist?
RAE WYNN-GRANT: My family didn’t have a TV but my grandparents did, so I’d go to their house and watch a lot of nature shows. I was captivated by the wild animals. I’d watch these white British guys walking through the jungle with all this knowledge about the animals, and I thought, “I want to be a nature show host when I grow up.” I had no idea until I was a little older that I was being introduced to science.

NGF: And that’s when you decided what you wanted to do?
RWG: Yes, but I wasn’t sure if I could be a wildlife biologist. I didn’t get very good grades in math and science, and I really struggled with self-esteem growing up. What I needed was some encouragement and self-confidence, but I wasn’t always getting that in the public school districts I attended, in California and Virginia. I think that’s a problem for a lot of kids of color, as well as girls.

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