You’d be hard pressed to attend a Waynedale event without seeing Megan Ryan and her winning smile. You might have spotted her slinging a paintbrush over rusty guardrails on Fairfield Road, waving in the Memorial Day parade or volunteering at the Taste of Waynedale as part of The Waynedale News Team. She has supported both Easter and Christmas events in Waynedale, the Elmhurst Final Farewell Tour and Halloween Trunk or Treats to benefit the Sidewalks and Trails. There is another huge event coming up in August that Megan spearheads; the Annual Waynedale Community Picnic.
Megan picked up responsibility for the picnic four years ago when long time organizer, Beulah Matzak, decided to pass the reins. Meg explains she wanted “to preserve and continue this time-honored Waynedale tradition rather than see it cease to exist.” Now in its 16th year, the picnic draws up to 2,000 people and is still free to those who attend. Megan is blessed to have an intern to help with the mailings and phone calls but the event is still a huge amount of effort.
Luckily it falls in the summer when Megan is typically off work. As a Special Education Teacher at Towles Montessori School (FWCS) she works with children in grades 1 through 6 in areas of reading, math, and social development. She truly loves being a teacher and it is evident as she was awarded the Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award in 2016 during her tenure at her alma mater Bishop Luers.
Megan was born and raised in Fort Wayne, growing up on the south side of town near Foster Park. She attended Saint John the Baptist School on Fairfield, followed by Bishop Luers High School. Her undergraduate work was done at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. Megan returned to Fort Wayne, after a year abroad teaching in Ghana, West Africa, to continue her education, receiving a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Saint Francis. She has owned a home in Indian Village for the past four years.
When speaking about her personal life, Megan proudly talks about her brother Michael. He is an air search and rescue swimmer for the United States Navy. She recently had the opportunity to spend time with him over Christmas and New Year’s in Japan where he is stationed. She is also quick to bring up two cats that she dearly loves; Piper and 2E, both of which she rescued.
But the subject that really causes Megan to start buzzing is anything relating to bees. She is a co-founder of Southwest Honey Company which began “as a humble idea for a conservation minded project that would improve the well-being of pollinators and conservation in the Waynedale area.” It officially had its start in 2016, although they have been keeping bees for over four years.
This idea was born through the creative and community conscious minds of Alex Cornwell and Megan. The company’s home base is at the Southwest Conservation Club where they maintain bee hives next to the restored and natural prairie full of Indiana native wildflowers, right here in Waynedale. They have since spread to many surrounding areas, keeping bees on sustainable properties that provide the best homes for these important pollinators.
An important part of their work is education. Megan states “we are extremely dedicated to educating our community on the importance of pollinators and how people can help.” She is out in the community almost daily through the summer months speaking to children at the library and summer camps, as well as adult and senior groups.
Megan feels honored that their “Explore the Honey Bee” educational programs have been featured in not only local and regional media, but also in national periodicals such as “American Beekeeping Journal,” “Bee Culture,” and “Voice of America.”
In addition to bees, picnics, and teaching, Meg serves on the Board of Directors for the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, heading up their Development Committee and Events Committee. She was also a worthy nominee for “20 Millennials Making a Difference 2015.”
Please save the date for Saturday, August 25. Come see Megan at the Waynedale picnic at the Waynedale Park. Visit the vendor booths, play some bingo and enjoy the kid’s games. And while you are there, look for her bright smile and be sure to tell her how much you appreciate her passion for children, for animals, for our environment and for all things Waynedale!