The creators of this blog are prime examples of women who were empowered by science to alter the course of their lives in ways they would never have imagined. Though both Jill and Kristen have no diplomas in their fields of interest, their dedication to self-education and learning by experience led to employment opportunities with the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, FL, where they met in 2009. Their joint love of science, history, and writing led to the creation of the S.T.E.A.M. Empowered blog in 2015.

Jill Staake 

S.T.E.A.M. Powers: Lepidopterist, Ornithologist, Ecologist, Writer

Her Story: 
As a child, Jill was much more likely to be found in a library than in the great outdoors. Even when told to "get your nose out of that book and go outside," she usually just took the book with her when she went out to sit under a tree. However, at least some of that outside time must have had an effect, because by her mid-20s, Jill was a fervid amateur birder. After spending her first 30 years in Ohio, and a good chunk of that time working in training and development for a bank, she and her husband moved to Tampa to escape cold and snow. With all 12 months of the year now available for gardening and wildlife watching, Jill quickly shifted her life's focus. When the recession downsized her out of a job, she embraced a new direction in life and decided to build a career around her two favorite hobbies: nature and writing. In 2009, Jill began volunteering with MOSI Outside, which led to employment in 2011. At the same time, she began freelance work with Birds & Blooms magazine, writing for both their blog (where she has published hundreds of posts) and print magazine. When Jill isn't raising butterflies, pulling weeds, writing posts, or watching birds, you'll find her lounging on the beach (under a shady umbrella, of course) reading books on her Kindle. Some things never change.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs

Kristen Gilpin

S.T.E.A.M. Powers: Lepidopterist, Ecologist, Artist 

Her Story:
When yet knee high to most medium sized mammals, Kristen could usually be found up a tree with a book, collecting newts, and saving toads from drowning in swimming pools. After escaping Scranton and winter coats, Kristen traded the mountains and valleys for the sandhills, coastal dunes, beaches, and hardwood hammocks of Florida. Here she can oft be found stalking wildflowers, butterflies or anything that uses scurrying as a means of locomotion. By weekday, Kristen is a professional producer of butterflies and can be found at MOSI Outside where she is a veteran of over 15 years. In her off hours, she can be found getting all medieval on people in the Florida branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism or supporting the arts and artists of Tampa as a Board Member at the Life Enrichment Center.

In short, Kristen Gilpin is an illuminator, botanical illustrator, calligrapher, photographer, gardener, writer and foodie who has a penchant for butterflies, gin, horror stories, strange fruits and antiquated art supplies. Kristen keeps an art blog entitled A Little Ink More or Less and sells her art prints on Etsy in a store entitled Currant Thoughts.

Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man. ~Vladimir Nabokov


Elisabeth Pendergrass

Coming soon!

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