Leslie V. Watkins was a native of Botetourt County, Virginia, and graduated from Jefferson high School in Roanoke. She completed her A.B. degree at Roanoke College in 1942. Watkins continued her education at the College of William and Mary, the University of Pennsylvania, Randolph Macon Women's College, and New Mexico Highlands University, where she pursued graduate work in the areas of biology, physics, and education.
Watkins began her teaching career at Willis, Virginia, and taught subsequently at Salem, Wytheville, Andrew Lewis in Salem, and William Fleming in Roanoke. She was on the faculty at Glenvar since 1964. Watkins organized the first regional Science Fair program in 1953 to serve high school students in 25 counties. She directed this program until 1960, when she was named executive secretary of the Science Clubs of America. The Regional Science Fair is still held annually at Roanoke College.
In 1952 and 1954, Watkins was honored by the Virginia Academy of Science for outstanding service in the development of young scientists. In 1967, the Virginia Section of the American Chemical Society presented her their Distinguished Service Award of the year for her outstanding contributions in science education. Watkins was also recognized that same year by the student at Glenvar High School to receive their first "outstanding Teacher of the year" award.
Watkins was a member of many different organizations, and gave her time to many different groups and activities. She was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the national Science Teachers Association, The American Association of physics Teachers (Chesapeake Section), and the Virginia Academy of Science. Watkins was also very published, and wrote the Science Youth Articles handbook for four years. She was the editor for science textbooks, and wrote news releases for science education.
Leslie V. Watkins was awarded the Roanoke College Medal on October 28, 1967 for her responsible leadership, intellectual integrity, and outstanding contribution to the community.