Girl Scouts Welcome STEM Superstar

Jennifer Makins leaves Parish Episcopal to lead program at Camp Whispering Cedars

As the commercial sector becomes ever more evolved, careers centered around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will see an increase in demand.

Since 1990, STEM occupations have grown 79%, accounting for 8.6 million jobs in the U.S. workforce. By 2025, another 3.5 million STEM jobs will need to be filled.

Unfortunately, there is a gender gap within these fields, as women only represent 34% of the STEM workforce.

The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas is taking this hurdle head-on.

Having just hired one of the most distinguished teachers in the field of STEM education, the organization is looking to inspire confidence and promote critical thinking for future women in the workforce.

Jennifer Makins, a pioneering educator with a proven track record of strategically launching and growing large-scale initiatives, is the new executive director of the STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Whispering Cedars.

“I’m so excited to get in here and start helping this program continue to do amazing things,” she said.

Makins served the Parish Episcopal School in Dallas for 13 years, built multiple STEM programs, and won awards from NASA, Frontiers of Flight Museum, and many others.

She recently spoke during The Smithsonian’s Women’s Future Month and is one of 125 female innovators named American Association for the Advancement of Science IF/THEN Ambassadors as part of a Lyda Hill Philanthropies effort to inspire girls and advance women in STEM careers.

Of course, Makins sees her most significant accomplishments in the students she’s inspired.

“The more resilience we can instill in kids, the more resilience we can instill across the future corporate landscape,” she said. “With the IF/THEN Ambassador program, which the Girls Scouts are now affiliated with, the whole premise is if a girl can see a woman in STEM that looks like them, they will have the confidence to pursue that field.”

With STEM careers accounting for an ever-growing component of the U.S. workforce, she noted that women must receive equal exposure to these disciplines at an early age.

“Much of the deficit in STEM careers for women comes from limited access to early educational opportunities,” Makins said. “With the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, we have the opportunity to show girls how STEM disciplines combined with creativity hold the key to solving many of the challenges that face us.”

Her new mission is to pick up where the STEM Center left off. This facility underwent a significant renovation in 2017, only to be shut down a couple of years later during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, the STEM Center had to shut down because of the pandemic,” Makins said. “And we know the mental health impacts that the pandemic has had on students, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to provide hands-on, engaging education and foster the skills of collaboration. That’s what excites me. This place is full of opportunities.”

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