Columbian grad now with ODNR District 2 office

Meredith Gilbert

Columbian graduate Meredith Gilbert is the new wildlife communications specialist at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources District 2 office in Findlay.

She began her duties Jan. 23, and she and husband, Kyle Gilbert, moved from Columbus back to their hometown of Tiffin.

“I have basically always loved the outdoors since I was a little kid,” she said.

A 2008 Columbian graduate, Gilbert earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Ohio State University in 2012.

“I thought I was going to go into veterinary sciences,” she said. But on further investigation, she changed direction.

Right after graduation, she worked as a field technician with a doctoral student in OSU’s School of Environment and Natural Resources on a project to monitor robin and cardinal nests. The study was comparing nesting activity in forested versus urban areas.

“I was in the urban group,” she said. “We checked nests in people’s back yards.”

In early 2013, her husband obtained a graduate post in Muncie, Indiana, so they moved there for a year.

For the last three years, she has been working at The Columbus Zoo in the education department, where she focused on teaching people about animals and conservation, and leading tours.

“I was doing a ton with the public there,” she said.

Her new job as wildlife communications specialist at ODNR is less public, she said.

“I’m still working with the public, but slightly more removed,” she said.

In addition to sending news releases to the media, she will be taking part in ODNR education projects such as Project Wild and Growing Up Wild.

“We teach the programs to the facilitators,” she said.

The leaders then take the programs out to schools and youth groups.

“Being so new, I’m still getting a handle on that my responsibilities will be and how I can use this position and this division and all the good thing I can do,” she said.

But educating youth and getting them outdoors in a high priority for her.

“If you catch them young, you can have such a better influence to help them appreciate the natural resources,” she said.

Gilbert said her background in zoology helps her reach children and adults from a different angle than other ODNR representatives.

“It’s hunting and fishing, but it’s also birding and hiking,” she said. “Anything that gets them outside.”

Personally, she takes part in fishing, hiking and birding.

“I’m a big birder and I love to hike,” she said.

She said she’s hoping to take on some challenging hikes this spring, and her family often is outside watching birds.

“Coming home is really nice,” she said. “We weren’t that far away in Columbus, but it’s nice to be able to support our family, and it’s nice to have their support too.”

Gilbert is the daughter of Jenny and John Bowen of Tiffin, and Matt Miller of Tiffin. She has two sisters, Claire Miller of Tiffin and Abby Marchisio in the Akron area.

Her husband’s parents, Steve and Nancy Gilbert, also are from Tiffin.

As a child, she said time spent on the farm owned by her aunt and uncle, Mary and Bill Buskirk, was memorable.

“It was probably the most fun place to get babysat,” she said.

Time on the farm and time outdoors with her family gave he a love a nature, she said.

“I think it’s really important to encourage the next generation to get out there and make those connections,” she said. “But age doesn’t matter. If you want to learn to fish or hunt, or bird or hike, we have a lot of opportunities around the state.

“I have a ton of information for people,” she said.

To contact Gilbert, call (419) 429-8359 or (419) 424-5000.