Helen Tanzini

Mercer County Community College chemistry professor Helen Tanzini has been selected by the Trenton Section of the American Chemical Society for the 2018 Local Outreach Volunteer of the Year Award.

Tanzini, a Hamilton resident, was recognized for decades of volunteerism around the region to promote the magic and wonder of chemistry.

Each local section of the ACS has the opportunity to nominate one individual annually for demonstrating extraordinary outreach volunteer service. Last year 38 individuals from across the country were selected.

Since her first semester teaching at MCCC in 1998, Tanzini has organized and led field trips, in partnership with the ACS’s Trenton Section, to area elementary schools during National Chemistry Week in October. MCCC students have been front and center in the schools’ classrooms, presenting experiments that demonstrate chemistry concepts and create excitement for science among thousands of youngsters.

Many MCCC faculty members, volunteers from Rider University, The College of New Jersey, Princeton University, the ACS’s Trenton Section, and Mercer’s own returning alumni have joined in this major outreach initiative over the past 19 years. Collectively, they have served more than 12,000 students in 530 classes at 42 different schools. All funding for materials comes from the ACS’s Trenton Section.

Tanzini has also organized volunteer teams to participate in Super Science Saturdays at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton and has participated with her students at numerous science fairs at local schools. The advisor for MCCC’s Organic Chemistry Club, Tanzini was the recipient of the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010.

Surprised and humbled by the honor, Tanzini says her work has been a labor of love.

“My goal is to excite young people of all ages about the joys of chemistry and the mysteries of chemical processes — and to create enthusiasm in the next generation of students about science and science careers,” Tanzini said. “My own students benefit immensely from the experience of teaching what they have learned and of giving back to the community in a hands-on, interactive way during National Chemistry Week.”