Dr. Betsy Cairo is a reproductive biologist who teaches at University of Northern Colorado. A speaker at our It’s About Time, Betsy founded CryoGam Colorado in 1990.

Her experiences in the field and in the classroom have fueled her passion and helped hone her vision for educating Colorado’s youth, its educators, and its communities. Here, we talk about the reproductive education of yore and spotting a liar.

Has reproductive health education—officially known as sex education—changed significantly since you were in high school?

I was born in 1960 and started high school in 1973. We didn’t have sex ed, per se. We were taught the reproductive system, the stages of pubertal development, and a little about STDs. We weren’t taught anything about contraception. I grew up in a small town in Southern Colorado and, one year, we had about eight pregnant teens in the high school. I guess they finally thought that was too many so they asked Planned Parenthood to set up a clinic. It wasn’t very effective because they put the clinic on Main Street (where all the parents worked).

Did you speak about sex education with your family or was it taboo?

I never discussed it with my parents. That was the last place I would have this conversation. I gained most of my information at the local library and encyclopedias—we didn’t have Google back then. I do remember always being interested in this topic, so whenever I had to do a report in biology class it was always related to pregnancy, the history of birth control, or STDs. I’m sure my biology teacher cringed every time I gave a report … or maybe not. I had some really progressive biology teachers in high school. I really don’t remember being as interested in anything as much as I was with reproduction and reproductive health.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not in a lab?

When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time gardening, golfing, skiing, cooking, and, of course, playing with my granddaughter. I also put a lot of time into my non-profit, Look Both Ways. We specialize in reproductive health education and provide professional development for other educators faced with teaching this topic.

Do you have a favorite TED talk?

I really enjoyed the TED talk about “How to Spot a Liar.” Found it very useful.