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Customer on Center Stage: Scott Follett

It all started with a backyard experiment. Scott Follett loved to devise science projects with his son, Eddie, and help him develop a passion for STEM subjects. “Too many kids never have the chance to experience, to really see, the things they learn about in school,” Scott says. “I don’t think you can really learn without doing.”

The backyard lessons paid off. Like his father, a West Point alumnus, Eddie is now a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and one of about 60 nuclear officers in the navy. Scott is proud of his son’s accomplishments, and wants to help other kids have the same opportunities. After a fruitful career as a consultant for quality engineering, Mr. Follett now teaches manufacturing and engineering at ANC. “I want my students to have all the skills and knowledge necessary to really succeed in life,” he says. “The best future for our kids is in STEM. There are 4.5 million tech jobs currently unfilled. If our community here is going to thrive, it’ll be through STEM.”

Why are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) studies so important? “It’s the challenge of learning how the world operates,” Scott says. He wants to bring that challenge to the students of Mississippi County, both those in his classes and ANC and those younger students who are just beginning to develop their curiosity. Mr. Follett offers STEM classes to kids at the Blytheville Library every third Saturday, including additional summer opportunities. Why at a library? “I want to decentralize STEM training. Libraries are accessible to kids [of all backgrounds], even more than a classroom or even a college. The role of a library is to work in the community to link resources like schools, churches, industries, and individuals so they feel comfortable with each other and their positions.”

Scott wants to spark each child’s innate curiosity about how the world works by giving them hands-on experiences and space to hypothesize, experiment, and learn. “I’ve had kids who had never seen a real fire, who had never planted a real plant before. They’re so excited about the experience that they don’t know they’re learning about the connection between carbon and the environment, non-Newtonian fluids, Pythagorean ratios, fluid dynamics, chemistry, anthropology: the list goes on.”

Mr. Follett remembers the impact those backyard experiments had on his son. He wants to reach other kids in the same way: “As parents, we all want what’s best for our kids. Even if they choose not to use STEM, at least let them have the opportunity: let it be one of their choices.” In addition to working with elementary-aged kids at the library, Scott mentors older students, encouraging them to learn through teaching. ANC student Marc Vernon often assists in Scott’s STEM classes; Rori Burgess volunteers with him as a math tutor. To Scott Follett, reaching younger generation through science is all about securing the future. “Our community will be a better place through STEM.”

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