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National Endowment for the Arts grant allows biology, STEM exploration this fall

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Jun 27, 2019

Area residents will be able to explore the memoirs and career of a Midwestern nature lover and scientist this fall through book discussions, nature hikes and other events sponsored by the College of Lake County, thanks to a $15,000 Big Read Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The grant covers a month-long series of events, from mid-September to mid-October. Activities are centered around “Lab Girl,” an award-winning autobiography of Hope Jahren (pictured), a Minnesota native who overcame gender stereotypes in science to become one of the world’s leading geobiologists.

Growing up in Austin, Minn., Photo of Lab Girl book and Hope JahrenJahren was interested in trees, flowers, plants and soil since she was a child. “Lab Girl” tells the story of a young woman who finds friendship in odd places, battles bipolar disorder, perseveres through setbacks and becomes a respected scientist and passionate observer of the natural world. Jahren eventually earned a Ph.D. in soil science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996 and now lives in Oslo, Norway. In 2016, “Lab Girl” was named as a New York Times Notable Book and an Amazon Top 20 Best Book.

“CLC is proud to be one of the recipients of this annual grant for The Big Read from the National Endowment for the Arts, and we hope it will bring our whole community together as the college celebrates its 50th anniversary,” said CLC President Dr. Lori Suddick. “Lab Girl’ will appeal to diverse audiences and age groups across Lake County, and its themes represent many of CLC’s priorities, including sustainability and diversity. With our college’s growing STEM program, we seek women in the sciences as positive examples for our students.”

Studies indicate that reading for pleasure reduces stress, heightens empathy, improves students’ test scores, slows the onset of dementia and results in more active and aware citizens. To view a video of Dr. Suddick’s additional comments regarding the Big Read, visit

The event series will kick off Sept. 18 with a keynote address by Dr. Nancy Tuchman, Dean of the School of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University. Other events include 10 book discussions at CLC and area libraries, a memoir-writing workshop and panel discussions on sustainability, nature therapy and mental health issues. The Lake County Forest Preserve District, a partner in the project, will offer hikes and workshops on plant identification. Times, dates and locations of these events will be announced later this summer.

Lake County is one of 78 communities nationwide participating in the program. For details on national efforts, visit National Endowment for the Arts at

Fall classes begin Aug. 19. For information about courses and how to apply and enroll, visit


About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is an innovative community college in Lake County, Ill. that transforms lives with its variety of accessible, quality education options. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, College of Lake County provides affordable options in a state-of-the-art setting close to home. A large student network, with small class sizes, provides advantages to our students on a career-related program or a path toward a transfer degree. We’re proud to serve the diverse needs of our community and student body. Connect to your future today at College of Lake County.