Meet Barbara Turner

by Jan Whitmer
12/2009

Living in La Honda amongst the redwoods and forest creatures (she recently had a bobcat sitting on her deck!), Barbara Turner has developed a close affiliation with the natural world. That and her passionate love of science make her a natural for the Environmental Volunteers.

Barbara is a 4th generation Californian who graduated from Stanford with a major in psychology. She went into Early Childhood Education to begin with, but after her children came along, Barbara decided she preferred the hard sciences. So, she went back to school, earning a Master’s degree in Biology from Stanford. With the encouragement of a wonderful mentor professor, she began work there in the field of genetics (population genetics and the study of chromosomal behavior) and attained the position of senior research scientist.  And this all happened at a time when it was extremely unusual for a woman to be in the field of science.

Barbara has also been involved for a long time teaching ESL, both to children and adults. She teaches beginners but also works with several scholars, who are advanced speakers but need help with English for publishing. This work has kept her close to her daughter, Marcia, who is a school administrator, responsible for programs for English learners. She has also remained close to her son, Douglas, and his 2 sons, one of whom is “crazy about nature”! Barbara especially enjoys taking him on nature walks.

Eighteen years ago, Barbara became very attached to the 11th child of a woman she was tutoring in English. Esmeralda and Barbara soon “adopted” each other, and Barbara and her husband Franklin became “foster grandparents”. They are still very close today, and Esmeralda is as much a member of the Turner family as anyone.

In her spare time, Barbara loves to study—ancient history, literature, and, of course, science. She also tries to visit one foreign country a year. She has traveled to Spain, where she recently re-connected with members of her family who had been “lost” for 3 generations. Also, to fulfill a lifelong fascination with Japan, she visited that country last year. We are lucky to have Barbara sharing her skill and knowledge with the Environmental Volunteers!

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