3M Mentor Jeff Emslander - New Beginning

Wow – this is fun! I was aware of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge but was not involved in the program until this year. I know most of the other mentors well and I can say that the program has done a great job of matching 3M mentors to the ten finalists. I hope I can match the quality of the rest of the mentor group. ☺

I have been a mentor through other 3M programs for many years now and I think it is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I always learn new things when dealing with my mentees because they often bring a different perspective to a project or a problem they may encounter. It is also exciting for me to be around people that have these perspectives – I have learned a lot in these “reverse mentoring” situations. One of the most rewarding things for me is to have the opportunity to help someone think through a problem and then come up with their own solution or new approach – in some ways it’s more gratifying for me than solving the problem myself!

Now, I get a chance to do something new – mentor a Young Scientist instead of a 3M coworker. I am fortunate to be paired up with Hannah Herbst from Florida. Even before Hannah and I were introduced I knew this would be a good fit. I am pretty high energy, but Hannah is whole level above me - and I mean that in a very good way! We’ve chatted a few times now and again I find myself inspired by the passion she has for her project and the enthusiasm for learning and science. If you have seen any of Hannah’s YSC videos you will know what I am talking about. I am also learning – Hannah wanted to show me some prototypes she was developing so I learned to Skype... something I had never done before. I think we are quickly developing a strong relationship and I find myself energized by Hannah as we talk through her thoughts and issues with her project.

I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Young Scientist Challenge and to have the opportunity to step into a new type of mentoring role. I am truly enjoying it! If I had one message to share with others it would be to strongly consider any mentoring opportunity you may have. I think people often do not realize that they have knowledge and experience that can help others excel. Mentoring can be a lot of fun, inspiring and is extremely rewarding. I am really looking forward to watching Hannah’s project come to life and to helping her along the way!