Jeff Meilander, originally from Chesterland, Ohio has been an Arizona resident since 2004 and a Flagstaff community member since 2007. He has a M.A. in Science Teaching from Northern Arizona University and a B.S. in Secondary Life Science Education from Ohio University. While in Ohio, Jeff substituted for public and private schools, helped develop an after school program for children with autism, and coached ice hockey. He moved to Cottonwood, Arizona to work for Mingus Union High School. There, Jeff taught Earth Science and Lab Skills. He won the Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year Award for Yavapai County and was voted teacher of the month by Mingus students.
For classes, Jeff created experiential field trips to Meteor Crater, Gray Wolf Landfill, Sedona Recycles, Lowell Observatory, and Westfork Trail. He co-advised Student Council with Cody Canning, and together they designed and led a community-based field trip to Eastern Europe for forty community members. Jeff also coached youth roller hockey for the Arizona Roller Hockey Association, started the Mingus Union HS Ski and Snowboard Club and the Mingus Union HS Rock Climbing Club, and co-advised Verde Valley Robotics. In the summers he taught for Project Bridge and Buena Vista – two programs for underprivileged children in the Verde Valley.
In 2007, Jeff moved to Flagstaff to pursue a Master’s degree and taught Anatomy and Physiology labs for Northern Arizona University. Upon graduating, Jeff was hired at Northland Preparatory Academy to teach AP Environmental Science, Biology, and 7th grade General Science. He designed experiential field trips to Zion National Park, East Clear Creek and Oak Creek. He participated in the National Science Foundation’s GK12 grant program, advised NAU practicum students, and worked with colleagues to implement the Physics First program into the science curriculum. He currently works full time at NAU as a lab instructor, teaching biology, human anatomy and physiology, human sexuality, and field biology courses to Zion and Patagonia, Chile.
In his free time, Jeff plays ice hockey, hikes in the Grand Canyon, and enjoys getting outside whenever possible. In 2012 he traveled to South America to research hydroelectric energy, volunteer on sustainable farms through the WWOOF program, and worked as a guide in Patagonia, Chile. It was on this trip, that the foundational guidelines of the Flagstaff EcoRanch began to develop. Through the Flagstaff EcoRanch, Jeff hopes to inspire learners of all ages to find excitement in the natural world, reduce their impact on the environment and discover themselves through their educational experiences.
Currently, Jeff works full time as an instructor for Northern Arizona University teaching biology and anatomy/physiology. He supervises, evaluates, and mentors graduate teaching assistants, undergraduate lab assistants, advises the predental club, and is the program coordinator for the GK12 program which creates a collaboration between PhD and Master’s students and local teaches to enhance scientific communication, understanding, and education.
The Flagstaff EcoRanch is another way to further integrate into the Flagstaff community in order to raise awareness about environmental and sustainable issues.