Schon received a USDA National Needs Fellowship to complete a Ph.D. in agronomy from the University of Missouri–‐Columbia. She then worked at Epcot® at Walt Disney World for 17 years, helping to bring agriculture and science to life. She served as Plant Nutritionist at The Land, the agriculture pavilion at Epcot®, where she conducted plant research and led the plant science team. From 1996 to 2003, Mary recruited and trained agricultural scientists from around the globe to communicate effectively with the family audience at Epcot® during the Gardening for Food around the World show. This show impacted hundreds of thousands of guests each year. Schon used Epcot® venues such as The Living with the Land boat ride and the Behind the Seeds walking tour through The Land greenhouses (1989–‐2006), Monsanto’s Look Closer plant biotechnology exhibit (1999–‐2003), and American Farm Bureau Foundation’s Great American Farms experience (2003–‐2006) to make agricultural science entertaining, engaging and relevant to Epcot® guests of all ages.
Since 2007, Mary engaged in science education and energy efficiency projects for Krell Institute in Ames, IA. From 2012–‐2014, Schon has been contracted by the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources (CAFNR) at the University of Missouri – Columbia to conduct multi–‐session training workshops to prepare CAFNR scientists to communicate with non–‐science audiences as well as their peers. Mary has been an invited speaker for audiences including the National Science Board, NASA Education Team, and the American Farm Bureau Federation. She has also used her experiences at Epcot® to excite thousands of middle school and high school students about science and engineering careers.
Schon received her Bachelors of Arts in Biology from Mount Marty College, her Masters of Arts in biology from the University of South Dakota-Vermillion and her Doctor of Philosophy in Agronomy and Plant Physiology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.