Want to get a foot in the door in STEM outreach? Wear many hats


Madeleine Guenette.
As executive director of the Science Fair Foundation of British Columbia, Madeleine Guenette (BSc 2014) oversees an organization that delivers programming to 40,000 youth each year.
  • Madeleine Guenette
  • BSc 2014

What does the Science Fair Foundation do?

The Science Fair Foundation of BC is the largest volunteer science and technology outreach network in the province. It was established in 1997 and provides resources to schools to put on science fairs. We have about 1,500 volunteers who assist us each year. We hope our work helps foster scientifically and technologically literate youth.

What’s it like working there?

It’s a small organization, so you have to wear a lot of hats. But you also learn a lot on the fly because of that. We go to the science fairs and are able to see the impact our work has on students, and how it inspires them to go into STEM. This year, we attended 13 regional science fairs.

If you’re looking to get involved, what volunteer opportunities are available?

You can join volunteer committees who put on regional science fairs throughout BC and the Yukon. We also offer mentorships to students attending the science fairs, and volunteers can help students finalize their ideas or help them find lab space and materials.

What else can someone who wants to work in science outreach do to get their foot in the door?

The science outreach community has a great network. I’d suggest they find someone with a job like the kind of job that they’d like to have and reach out to them. Have a chat. If you have some experience in planning, that’s a wonderful skill. For example, I was interested in both business and science, and I had experience with a lot of operations management in my previous job. My work at SFFBC involves everything from office management to fundraising.

Any new projects you’re working on?

We’re launching the Youth Innovation Showcase. Anyone between the ages of 12 and 24 who has an innovative idea can submit a pitch video online. They’ll be entered into a competition to attend an event and pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts.