BHC Spotlight: Kayleen Meinen, '21

Major/Minor: Earth & Environmental Sciences with a minor in Environmental Studies
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Kayleen Meinen, '21

Why did you choose the BHC?
I chose to be a part of the Batten Honors College for the study away opportunities and close community with my peers. 

What benefits have you gained from the BHC
By being a part of the Batten Honors College, I have been able to take part in two short term study away courses (one to the Yucatán Peninsula and one to Southeast Alaska). These short term trips confirmed my interest in studying abroad, which I was able to do in Costa Rica during the Spring 2020 semester. I have also taken courses on subjects that I otherwise wouldn’t have taken, which has diversified my educational experience. 

Highlight a specific research, internship, or study abroad experience(s).
For the last two summers, I have interned with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) as a Soil Science Student Trainee. With this internship, I help create wetlands determinations for farmers and landowners in coastal Virginia. I have learned a lot about plant identification, hydrologic indicators, and wetland soils. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with programs like ArcGIS, AgACIS, and Web Soil Survey.              

How did the BHC curriculum or program prepare you for this experience?
When applying for this internship, I had only taken an introductory soil science course. Many of the other applicants were graduate students or undergraduates who were earning a soil or agricultural degree. I was able to earn the position by demonstrating my willingness to learn and critical thinking skills, which were cultivated by being a part of the Batten Honors College.     

What do you hope to achieve/gain from this experience?
Working with the NRCS has shown me the importance of soil science and ecology in agricultural conservation, and it has allowed me to do meaningful work related to my studies. I hope to continue with this work after graduate school.   

List of things involved with on campus (sports teams, clubs, academic competitions/teams, positions held and description of duties)

  • Marlins Go Green: Treasurer (Fall 2019), club member (Fall 2017-current)
  • Worked with club members to draft a proposal for the Earth and Environmental Science Department Grant.
  • Developed plans and assisted with the steps to create a new native species and pollinator garden (Marlin Meadows). 
  • Helped plan and prepare for vegan bake sales and other fundraising opportunities. 
  • Women’s Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track: Team member (Fall 2017-current)
  • Commit 15-20 hours per week to training, traveling, and competing year-round
  • Work to create a positive and cohesive relationship with coaching staff and teammates

List any awards, recognitions, and/or conference presentations

  • Presented a poster at PORT Day about food sustainability in Southeast Alaska
  • VWU State Farm Scholar-Athlete honoree
  • ODAC All-Academic Team
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences Department Grant awardee for development of Marlin Meadows (Marlins Go Green club effort)

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me using the info below:

Jenna Whitener
Instagram: @kayleenm_