Meagan grew up in Maryland and Texas before going to college and graduate school in Tennessee. Upon finishing school, she moved out west to work in outdoor education as a way teach environmental studies, travel to new locations, and sleep under the stars. Thankfully, outdoor education is about so much more than she knew when she started, and while she still love those activities, what has kept her in outdoor education is the impact she have seen it have on people. After a long day of rappelling into frigid potholes in a technical slot canyon or weaving a way through a seemingly endless maze of crevasses, these experiences enable people to shake off old ideas and stories about who they are and what they are capable of accomplishing. This sort of personal growth is certainly possible in lieu of the wilderness, but only in wild spaces does it seem to happen so rapidly, with the results so tangibly crystalline. Outdoor education provides endless opportunities to develop curiosity, self-awareness, and a deep connection with other humans and the environment. These aspects of outdoor education make this work the great, unexpected joy of Meagan’s life. She is excited to share this joy with students and to shape curriculum that helps her students to become ethical, engaged citizens of the world.
Meagan has worked for NOLS as a field instructor since 2010. She has 190+ weeks of teaching courses in backpacking, sea kayaking, winter camping, horse packing, and mountaineering courses. She leads NOLS courses in the western United States including Alaska and internationally in Tanzania and Chile. Prior to that she worked as a wilderness therapy field guide in southeast Alaska and as an instructor for the Wild Rockies Field Institute on their fall semester in Montana and their spring semester on the Colorado Plateau.
Meagan loves to teach and mentor students. What she loves about outdoor education is that the hierarchy between who is the teacher and who is the student can dissolve at any moment as everyone is just learning together. This, plus working hard and living together in gratitude is an excellent way to build trusting relationships that foster a strong community.
Meagan has studied plant ecology and conservation genetics, worked on small farms, taught biology abroad and gone to culinary school. The thread that runs through all of her professional experience is a passion for hands-on learning that deeply immerses her in the natural world, connects her to people and honors Wendell Berry’s notion of “good work.”
|M.S. Environmental Science||University of Tennessee|
|B.S. Environmental Studies: Ecology and Biodiversity||Sewanee: The University of the South|
|Society for Conservation Biology: July 2008, presented graduate research, Chattanooga, TN|
|Association of Southeastern Biologists Meeting: April 2008, presented graduate research, Spartanburg, SC|
|Tennessee Academy of Science Meeting: November 2007, presented graduate research, Gallatin, TN|
|NE-1015 Meeting: September 2007 presented graduate research to the American Chestnut Foundation, Marion, VA|
|Association of Southeastern Biologists Meeting: March 2006, presented undergraduate research, Gatlinburg, TN|
|Associated Colleges of the South Environmental Conference: February 2005, presented undergraduate research, Atlanta, GA|
|Joey Shaw, J.Hill Craddock and Meagan Binkley. Phylogeny and Phylogeography of North American Castanea Mill. (Fagaceae) Using cpDNA Suggests Gene Sharing in the Southern Appalachians (Castanea Mill., Fagaceae) CASTANEA 77(2): 186–211. June 2012. Southern Appalachian Botanical Society.|
|Deborah A. McGrath and Meagan A. Binkley. “Microstegium vimineum Invasion Changes in Soil Chemistry and Microarthropod Communities in Cumberland Plateau Forests,” Southeastern Naturalist 8(1), 141-156, March 2009.|
Thomas Plotkin Award, May 2018. For the NOLS instructor who embodies exemplary communication and mentorship of students as evidenced by consistently positive student evaluations, develops excellent decision-making in NOLS students, and implements excellent risk management practices that promotes the safety and welfare of students.
Three Books You Recommend?
Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
The Endurance by Caroline Alexander
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat