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Mary Skopec for TEDxOkoboji's 1st Annual Conference

November 18th, 2019 | Meet the Speakers

Mary Skopec

"Roots to Branches – The Power of Nature Based Education"

1st Annual TEDxOkoboji Conference // 22 November 2019

I listen to the nervous laughter around the table as our TEDxOkoboji organizers ask us how we are coming along with mere weeks to the big event.  It feels vaguely reminiscent of those moments in school when you were behind on your final project and you wonder if everyone waits until the last minute – or if that alone is your special skill.  The laughter provides some confirmation that all of us are in that same tiny rowboat of anxiety together. I am grateful that the organizers create these opportunities to check in with each other and to provide the necessary encouragement and support to reassure us that we will all get there.   Knowing that others have struggled to find the right words or message is strangely comforting. One of the other speakers mentions spending time in a “dark place” before finding his voice. I nod inwardly. Providing an idea worth sharing is a daunting promise to make. Will my talk measure up to the expectations?  I worry that my idea is not enough for others to care about or listen to, let alone share. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have an “a-ha” moment. My break-through comes in a work seminar. The speaker challenges us to reflect on what we value in our lives. She hands us a sheet of “value” words and asks us to circle those that speak to us.  Purpose. The word jumps off the paper at me.  The reason I get out of bed each day is to have a purpose in my life.  I am passionately dedicated to connecting people to nature. Here is the inspiration that I have been waiting for.  The more I reflect on what that means to me, the more easily the words and ideas flow. I have come to realize that while I hope to give an idea worth sharing to the audience, the personal journey to a place where I can fully embrace my purpose is a gift worth receiving.  

Mary Skopec for TEDxOkoboji's 1st Annual Conference

September 4th, 2019 | Meet the Speakers

Mary Skopec

"Roots to Branches – The Power of Nature Based Education"

1st Annual TEDxOkoboji Conference // 22 November 2019

My TEDx talk journey reminds me of the first time I traveled internationally.  My decision to go on that trip went something like this… A friend says to me, “You should come to Ireland with us”… And me saying, “Yes!”  Never mind that this friend was really more of an acquaintance at that time and I definitely didn’t know anyone else that was going on the trip.  The idea sounded cool and a little outside my comfort zone, and I mean, really, what was the worst that could happen?  

When someone suggested that I think about giving a TEDx talk, my first reaction was “definitely!”… But once I received the acceptance letter, my thoughts went to, “Oh, no! What have I done???”   I’ve given plenty of presentations as a scientist and teacher, but then the reality of a TEDx talk comes calling – a talk that has a BIG IDEA. One that resonates with people that don’t think like me (aka wonky scientist types).   For me, this type of talk is not only outside my comfort zone, but totally outside my comfort universe. Honestly, I feel really honored to be part of a phenomenal line-up of TEDxOkoboji speakers, and I know that their support will make the process fun and memorable.  Here’s to hoping that on the other side of this I am able to look back fondly on pushing that comfort zone out another few inches…

1st Annual TEDxOkoboji Conference // Friday November 22, 2019