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Jennifer Mortensen
Fernley High School
Fernley, Nevada

I grew up in rural Nevada as the oldest child of the only physician around for miles. My love of science came directly from her enthusiasm for medicine and the natural world. Being immersed in science as a child definitely created the life long passion I have now for all things science.

After graduating from high school in 1999, I attended the University of Nevada Reno and received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2003. While in college, I participated in Science Partners, a program that gave college juniors and seniors semester credit for teaching science to elementary students three hours a week. I loved the experience which definitely paved my way to becoming a teacher.

After graduating from UNR, I went to Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, NV where I took graduate coursework in education. From SNC, I was able to obtain my Secondary Teaching Credentials in 2004. I was actually hired for my first job half way through my student teaching to be a science teacher at Rainshadow Community Charter School, a project-based charter school for at-risk high school students. After two years at Rainshadow, I felt the travel bug take a hold of me, and I moved to Nome, Alaska where I taught Biology for the fall semester for a teacher out on maternity leave. Teaching in Nome was one of the best experiences of my entire life. From Nome, I moved back home to Smith Valley, Nevada (it’s not on a map!) and completely diverged from my science background and taught high school English for a semester. It was awesome!

Wanting to stay in the same district, I applied for a science position at Fernley High School. I have been here ever since! Fernley has offered me many new experiences for my teaching repertoire. I’m currently teaching (and loving) Advanced Placement Biology and Honors Anatomy and Physiology. This is also my second year as the leadership advisor! That’s a true adventure! Last year, I finished my Master of Arts in Teaching from Sierra Nevada College, writing my graduate thesis on the theory of evolution and its place in Nevada’s current science standards (poorly covered!) and adopted text books.

Aside from teaching, I have a passion for the outdoors and I love equestrian sports, specifically show jumping. Daylight & finances permitting, I try to practice and compete as much as possible on my seven-year old Thoroughbred gelding in the Adult Amateur and Junior-Amateur Modified jumper classes (hopefully moving up to the Low Junior Amateur’s this fall!). I enjoy big game hunting with my husband, and I love running with my two border collies. In my travels, I had the opportunity to hike Kilimanjaro (before the glaciers melt) in 2008. Ready for my next challenge, my husband and I are anticipating the arrival of our first child (we’ve been told it’s a baby girl) at the end of June.

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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: February 2010