August 30, 2016

Staff & Volunteer Biographies

Megan Ryan and Alex Cornwell co-founded Southwest Honey Co. in January 2016 as an expansion of their beekeeping hobby to create a positive community effort that assists the Northeast Indiana (Fort Wayne)  honey bee population. Since its origination, due to the overwhelming success and attraction by the public, they have grown to managing many local apiaries on natural  and preserved properties, holding K-12, adult and senior educational programs, and selling raw local honey. Focusing on Conservation, Beekeeping, Education and Fundraising, their efforts continue to create positive avocation to save honey bees and pollinators.

Southwest Honey Co. is made up of volunteers and partners who want to help the honey bee population. We are proud to announce our operation has been brought to life through sponsorships and partnerships with  Betterbee, Wheeler’s Bees (Ossian, IN) as well as other honey & beekeeping organizations. We are members of the American Beekeeping Federation, Beekeepers of Indiana Association and Northeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association.

Megan Ryan

Education Director, Event Coordinator, Co-lead Beekeeper & Co-Foundermegan-ryan

Megan has earned her Master’s Degree in education from the University of Saint Francis and orchestrates the summer education programs for children, adults and seniors. Her passion for honey bees and pollinators has assisted her to build a fun and impactful curriculum that students of all ages enjoy. During the school year, she is the Special Education Teacher at Towles Montessori School. She has received many awards for her exceptional efforts and excellence in the community and volunteering abroad, including: Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award (2016), Twenty Millennials Making A Difference (2015), & has been honored as the She Glow’s in Glo Magazine (2019) .

Alex Cornwell

Organization Manager, Co-lead Beekeeper & Co-Founderalex-cornwell

Alex is a Waynedale (Fort Wayne, IN) community leader and the owner/ publisher of The Waynedale News. He brings his business insight, marketing and sales expertise to assist Southwest Honey Co. manage the many facets of the organization. Alex is involved in many community initiatives and is especially fond of environmentalism, innovation and connecting people through positive action. He has inherited title of “Youngest Newspaper Publisher In America” and has received the “University of Saint Francis’ Distinguished Young Alumni (2012)” for his work in the community. Alex has previously served on multiple non-profit boards and currently volunteers his time as the Avalon Place Civic Association (neighborhood) President, Waynedale Community Improvement Team Co-Founder, Waynedale Business Chamber Co-Founder, Waynedale Lion’s Club Membership Chair and The Southwest Conservation Club Board of Directors Member.

Mackenzie Kneller

Event Assistant, Educator & Beekeepermackenzie-kneller

Mackenzie graduated from Ivy Tech Community College in 2016 with her Culinary and Dietary Management degrees. Having taught with Megan previously in Western Africa, the cohesiveness during the summer education programs has been ideal as they teach about honey bees side by side. Mackenzie enjoys time spent at the hives as well as her time in the community helping to educate those around her about pollinators. Mackenzie is an avid outdoors woman and lover of all things nature. She enjoys traveling and experiencing cultures, foods, and people from around the world.

Tim & Kathy Ryan

Event Assistants & Beekeeper (Tim)

Tim and Kathy recently celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary! Tim is a Fort Wayne native and a gardener with a very green thumb! Kathy hails from the small town of Wolcott, Indiana and has recently retired from a local non-profit as their finance manager. Together they have become immersed in the honey bee culture and have enjoyed spreading the word about pollinators in our community. Through their volunteer efforts, they have helped plan and implement many special events and educational programs. Tim recently joined the beekeeping team and has enjoyed learning the art of beekeeping and the intricacies of the honey bees. Kathy also assists with bottling and honey orders to keep the community buzzing with their local honey supply. Tim and Kathy are the proud parents to two wonderful children, Megan and Michael.

Jordan Cornwell

Special Events Assistant, Honey Bee Technology Innovatorjordan-cornwell

Jordan, an Oregon, Wisconsin native, recently relocated to the Fort Wayne area and has enjoyed jumping on board to help the Southwest Honey Co. team. Jordan works in sales for the Waynedale News and has recently helped in the creation of the Waynedale Business Chamber, of which he was President for 3 years. Jordan volunteers much of his time assisting with Southwest Honey Co. special events and helps with educational programs in the community.

Cynthia Cornwell

Special Events Assistantcindy cornwell

Cindy is a transplant to the Fort Wayne area. Cindy was born and raised in south central Wisconsin. Cindy has lived in the Waynedale area for over 15 years, and is currently working full time as a surgical assistant for Afdent. Cindy has assisted Southwest Honey Co. in many ways as she volunteers her time with special events and educational programs. Cindy is an avid runner and a lover of all things history.

Maria Sutherland

Special Events Assistant, Beekeeper

Maria, born in Chocabamba, Bolivia was raised surrounded by the beauty of the Andes Mountains and just two hours away from the Amazon Rainforest. With this background, she grew up with a passion for nature. Maria has her Bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University and is working for the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department. Maria volunteers her time with Southwest Honey Co. helping with special events and has taken on the wonderful task of apprenticing with beekeeping. Maria is a strong community advocate for Southwest Honey Co. and continually supports the mission of protecting pollinators!

Aaron Brown

Special Events Assistant, Research Support

Aaron Brown joined the Southwest Honey Co. volunteer team in 2017. Hailing from Hartford City, he holds a B.S. in chemistry from Ball State University and an M.S. in ecology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where he investigated potential unintended effects of a genetically modified tree on parasitoids and pathogens of gypsy moth caterpillars. Aaron enjoys playing the trumpet, cooking, insect collecting, and loves all things science.

Rick Ritter

Local Farmer, Beekeeper, Swarm Rescuer 

Rick has been a beekeeper for over 10 years and today he hosts hives for Southwest Honey Co. that assist with pollinating his 7 organic acres at Dick’s Organics. He grows all of his produce for local soup kitchens and those who do not have access to fresh foods. He also volunteers his time with us going out on swarm rescue calls to relocate honey bees to sustainable locations as well as adventuring into cut-out removals and innovating trap devices for honey bee colonies that make their homes in places such as walls of homes. Rick is a Master Gardener and a Master Naturalist.

Zoe VerPlanck

Event Assistant, Educator & Beekeeper

I met Megan and Alex after moving back home from Southeast Georgia, where I worked for Savannah Bee Company for two years. When I came home, l was eager to continue learning and working with beekeepers. Luckily, fate brought us all together and I now volunteer with Southwest Honey Co. helping to educate the community. I love working with all the kids and families and am eager to answer any and all questions relating to honey bees. I’m amazed at how much I’ve been able to learn from volunteering with Megan and Alex and observing the hives. I cannot wait to see what’s in store for the future of Southwest Honey Co.!


More About Southwest Honey Co.

Raw, Local Honey & Gifts
Our unpasteurized and raw honey is bottled directly from the hive, so you can enjoy with confidence that it has pure nutrients, enzymes, and pollen. . .
> Click To Read More
Learn More About Pollinators
We hold hands-on, fun and educational events and classes for kids (Explore The Honey Bee), adults (Bees & Brew) and seniors (Bees & Tea). . .
> Click To Read More
Help Save Our Bees
Did you know that we can thank a honey bee for one of every three bites of food we take? Join in our cause to help save the bees. . .
> Click To Read More