This month we’re pleased to feature a member who has a passion for blending EE with natural and cultural history. Pony Meyer (they/them) develops and provides dynamic EE programming at the historic Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, KY. Pony is such gem of an educator and we’re so glad we got to chat with them a bit about what they love about EE and how this network can support the great work happening at Shaker Village.
Guest interview featuring KAEE member Pony Meyer, Program Specialist at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
KAEE: What is your current role in the field of EE?
Pony: I am a Program Specialist at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. As a program specialist, I research, write, and deliver a variety of historical, recreational, and educational programs which includes a lot of the informal environmental education programs that we have at Shaker Village. I particularly enjoy facilitating our night hikes, owl prowl, creek walk (macroinvertebrate sampling), and nature journaling programs.
In January, I collaborated with the Preserve Managers on a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Five Star Urban Waters grant that would help us do some habitat restoration on our historic ponds and expand environmental education programming in those areas. Fingers crossed we get that!
KAEE: What projects or programs are you working on that particularly inspire you?
Pony: There are a few projects I've been working on lately that I am really excited about.
I love trees! I am currently working on a two-year tree project that involves creating a tree map of the trees in the village as well as online natural history and cultural-historical content related to these trees. The map is almost done! I am also working on a basic tree ID program to help guests learn the basics of identifying some of Kentucky's native trees. We hope to have this map and program running by this summer/fall.
We recently started a Riverboat Lab project, which is a water quality testing program for eighth grade science students in Mercer County. My supervisors secured the grant for this to help offset costs of transportation for students. I developed the curriculum for the program and ran the pilot last November 2021. We run this on the Shaker Village Riverboat/Kentucky River, and it was great to witness the students having so much fun while learning about their watershed. We secured funding to continue running this program in 2022 and I am excited to continue working on it. [Funding sources: Bluegrass Greensource and LG&E/KU (Kentucky Utilities)]
KAEE: What goals do you have for your organization or programs within the EE field?
Pony: Continue working as a team to continue growing our EE programming. As an educator, I am always learning and looking for ways to improve my teaching and knowledge of local natural history. I'd also like to continue making valuable connections with other environmental educators and naturalist-type colleagues in Kentucky for information sharing and collaborations.
KAEE: What is an area you feel you could use support in from this network of fellow educators?
Pony: So far, it's been amazing. I have always received great support from KAEE staff. Melinda Wilder often gives me feedback on programming, and I am very grateful for that.
When I’m working on a program, I always consult other people. For example, when I started creating the tree map, I consulted a state forester I met through a KAEE program. As I have been thinking about creating a junior naturalist program, I called a colleague at Bernheim who I met through KAEE as well. There's always something to learn from people in this network and it's great!
KAEE: What is something you feel could be beneficial to share with this network?
Pony: I don't think this answers your question, but we should have a camping trip!
KAEE: Share a fun fact or random tidbit about yourself with the group!
Pony: I love to dance. I'm also a semi-retired drag king.