Staff Spotlight: Jessica Blake

Iowa State University Seed Science Center (ISU SSC) Registered Seed Technologist (RST), Jessica Blake, can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a passion for the natural world, including seeds. She says she gets it from her both of her parents who are very proud of their land and that she started out as her “mom’s little helper.”

“She taught me how to plant and grow vegetables and flowers and encouraged me to plant and care for my own section in the garden,” Jessica said. “She pointed out the trees and flowers that grew on our property and created value for them and she and my dad always included me in conversations regarding the use of the land.”

Jessica began working at the ISU SSC Seed lab as a student in the fall of 2008.  After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis in botany, she became a full-time staff member in 2010, working in the Germination Lab until she earned her Certified Viability Technologist title.  She has since earned her Registered Seed Technologist certificate and has worked in both the Health and Purity labs. Seed Lab Manager, Michael Stahr, calls Jessica knowledgeable and hard-working, and says she is always thinking about how to do things better.

 “Jess doesn’t hesitate to tell me like it is and I appreciate that,” said Stahr.  “She works very hard to make each Purity week of the Seed Analyst Short Course better than the ones before and I can see she loves teaching.”

Charles Block, National Seed Health System co-director agrees with Stahr and adds an appreciation for her versatility and adaptability.

“Over the years, Jessica has demonstrated these capabilities as a team member in germination testing, purity analysis, seed health testing, and most recently adding ISO management responsibilities,” Block said.

Jessica says being a member of the AOSA/SCST Exam Committee, she helps proctor and grade the Purity and Germination Certification Exams which compliments her role teaching the ISU SSC Purity Short Course. 

“Jessica excels as a teacher. She is patient, thorough, and clearly explains the individual steps in a process or activity,” Block said. “She quickly establishes a good rapport with students.”

But Jessica credits the support of her co-workers for some of her success.

“My greatest accomplishment here is becoming a RST, something that I could never have achieved without the support of my Seed Lab family,” she said.  “I'm also proud of the work I've done with the Purity Short Course; I've discovered that I really enjoy sharing my love of seeds and purity analysis.”

But seeds aren’t her only passion.  She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 19 years, and has two daughters, ages three years and three months,  But it may be her love of being on wheels that gives her a secret thrill.

“Much of my Seed Lab family is aware of my passion for Roller Derby, and while I am currently taking a break from my "Derby Career," it's still very near and dear to my heart,” Jessica said. “More recently I have revived my love of motorcycles, both on and off road.”