The Impact of STEM Mentorship:

JASON Argonaut Alumni Jessica “JJ” Hendrickson


JJ’s student photo from her Argonaut years.

JJ participated in JASON Learning’s 2002 “Frozen Worlds” expedition to Alaska, where she worked with scientists studying ice worms that live in Alaskan glaciers. Working side-by-side with these STEM role models had a lifelong impact.

According to JJ, “the JASON Argonaut experience reinforced my love of science, cultural awareness, and community. The lessons I learned as an Argonaut influenced my decision to go on to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s degree in zoology.”

Originally from Richmond, Virginia, JJ now resides in Alaska and serves as Chief Animal Control Officer at the Kenai Animal Shelter. Not only has she returned to the geographic source of her STEM career inspiration, she’s also finding ways to support youth and her community in the same way that JASON supported her.

JJ and scientist Daniel Shain studying ice worms together in 2002.

JJ and scientist Daniel Shain studying ice worms together in 2002.

“During graduate school, my case studies revolved around finding ways to get youth involved in and around nature. And more recently in my role as Chief Animal Control Officer I spend a large portion of my days interacting with and educating the community in which I work.”

Scientists weren’t the only role models that impacted JJ during her time as a JASON Argonaut. As National Geographic’s JASON Argonaut representative for 2002, she was able to build lifelong mentorship relationships with influential professionals from that organization as well. Dan Beaupré, who today is Vice President of Experiences for National Geographic Society’s Education division, was one of those notable mentors. “Dan’s dedication, knowledge and willingness to share his passion has stuck with me to this day. Because of his example, I strive to find ways to leave a mark on the people I meet and the communities in which I reside.”

An ice worm next to a dime for scale.

An ice worm next to a dime for scale.

JASON’s ongoing mission is to inspire and educate students everywhere through real science and exploration. JASON’s Student and Teacher Argonauts—named after the band of explorers in Greek mythology who accompanied Jason in his quest to find the Golden Fleece—travel to research locations around the world to work with role model scientists and engineers. In doing so, they become the eyes and ears for their peers back home, experiencing firsthand what it’s like to pursue a STEM career, sharing that knowledge when they return to their local communities, and making real-world connections to the STEM topics they’ve learned about in JASON’s classroom curricula. Returning Argonauts are given rock-star treatment, celebrated for their achievements and recognized themselves as STEM role models in their schools and communities.

Since JASON’s founding in 1989 over 500 students and teachers have participated in the Argonaut Program, inspiring millions of their peers in the process.

© 2017 JASON Learning