Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Emily Meier

NSA and Ecosphere Studies Intern

Emily is from a small town near Madison, Wisconsin and lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for several years. She has a degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked with some aspect of education including a common theme of connection to place since graduating. She worked at the Teton Science Schools, a national leader in place-based education, as both an outdoor educator and administrator; as a director of communications for a regional Audubon Society connecting people to the landscapes of south-central Wisconsin through birds and grassland conservation; and most recently,  with the Rural Schools Collaborative,  an organization working to strengthen the bonds between small schools and small towns through place-based engagement, rural philanthropy, and the creation of rural teacher-leaders. She comments, “I’ve been lucky to work for organizations that represent my varied interests and passions, and that strive to connect people to place through good, thoughtful, and honest work. Being here at the Land Institute is a continuation of that thread.”


What drew you to work at TLI?

I’ve always felt that a strong connection to place is such an essential (and often overlooked) part of our human experience. TLI is unique in that it is doing groundbreaking science research but also sees the value of place in larger systems (like agriculture) – and not in a geographic sense. I appreciate that the community at TLI sees place as centrally important, using it as a scientific tool, a philosophy, and a sort of spiritual lens on our work.

What would people never guess that you do as part of your role at TLI?

Right now, I’m working with colleagues here on a study of the intern program at TLI. So, essentially I’m examining my own role, learning, and interactions here in a really deliberate way, one that will hopefully guide the future of the intern program as it continues to grow. I laugh because it’s so “meta” which is a bit of a catch-phrase these days.

What’s one aspect of your life history that most people don’t know or wouldn’t expect?

I grew up with an airport in my backyard, and all my neighbors were pilots and small aircraft enthusiasts. My mom, dad, and grandfather all had their pilots’ licenses. We had a small airplane hangar attached to the back of the house, and my dad used to build planes and help our neighbors restore antique aircraft. Saturday mornings, we’d wake up, hop in the old Cessna 172, and fly off over the rolling, pastoral Wisconsin landscape, often to another small rural airstrip that was hosting a pancake breakfast.

What’s your motto / favorite quote?

The Gardener
by Mary Oliver 

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough,
   have I come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with
   sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
   Actually, I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple
man, is tending his children, the roses.

Support the work of Emily and others at The Land Institute with a donation.


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