Kerry Flavourist Trainee gives back by teaching teens about food flavour science
When Paige Simonis was in sixth grade, a speaker at a Beloit College science camp changed her life by igniting her passion for a career in the sciences—now she is a Flavourist Trainee in the Savoury Flavours lab at the Kerry North America Regional Innovation Center in Beloit, Wisconsin. “I was hooked on her every word,” said Simonis. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have known about real, tangible careers in my community.”
Simonis is paying it forward by helping educate and inspire the next generation of scientists. For the past three years, she has been leading food flavour science workshops for middle and high school students in the Beloit area. The latest one happened on November 16 at Beloit Memorial High School, where she worked with ninth through twelfth graders in the school’s food sciences classes. (You heard that right—a food science class in high school!)
At the workshops, Simonis gave students an overview of Kerry, explained what she does as a flavourist and told them about potential career paths at the company. Then came the fun part—the students got to try their hand at building their own flavour.
“Once they started smelling and mixing the flavours, they started getting really into it,” said Simonis. “They started asking how to get involved after school, if you had to be a ‘super smeller’ to do the work and a variety of other things,” she said.
Simonis gave them a taste of the business, too. Student ‘account managers’ brought formulas and samples to the ‘customer’ (played by Simonis) to get suggestions for adjustments. The first team to get closest to the customer’s sample match won the business. “There were a couple of teams that came in so close to each other that we deemed them the secondary suppliers,” said Simonis. “It was great to see each group collaborating, trying new variations, talking with each other to problem solve and working towards a common goal.”
Beloit Memorial High School has a diverse student body, including first-generation Americans, so Simonis made a point to highlight Kerry’s global diversity. “My lab comprises people of many different backgrounds and ethnicities—I explained how diverse tastes help us develop well-rounded products that can appeal to broader audiences,” said Simonis.
“Kerry has supported me in so many ways with these workshops,” said Simonis. “It’s empowering to know that my company gives me the time and flexibility to balance my workload, Flavourist training and community outreach. Even if one student thinks my career and career path is something they want to do, then I have made an impact.”