2020 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Education

Melinda McKinney is highly involved with STEM initiatives in Flagstaff. As an instructor of Biology, Physics and Mathematics at Coconino Community College she inspires students through her courses and lectures. Outside of the classroom she organizes camps, workshops, and activities that promote science and enhance public knowledge on a variety of topics. Melinda is on the board of the Flagstaff Festival of Science as a primary organizer for Coconino Community College’s involvement in workshops.

Her career at Coconino Community College started in 2011. Since then she has revamped the introductory biology courses at the school by adding new labs and engaging lectures. Online students benefit from her work as she has created new courses over the internet as well. The “CCC Science Club” was organized by Melinda where students are offered real-world science opportunities that prepare them for life outside of the classroom.

McKinney designed, developed, and delivered The Science and Stars Camp, a week long science camp for 15 kids in Page, Arizona. Ages of participants ranged from 7 to 11 years old; they examine plants and soil and learn how scientists search for planets. The camp provided the youth with exposure to content that is engaging and supports science standards. McKinney said “if they have that experience of actually discovering something itself or coming to a conclusion for the first time and being able to solve a problem, then there’s a great sense of accomplishment that comes along. That can be what sustains someone interested in the field where you can start learning.” This camp was CCC’s first science and stars camp in Page and it was a massive success.

Her knowledge of biology intrigues and inspires anyone who hears her speak on the topic. Melinda gave an “Ed Talks” at CCC where she presented on the biology of compost. She led the group through biological processes of composting and gave listeners the opportunity to view organisms inside the compost samples through high quality microscopes. Many viewers came to the talk with their own samples of compost.

McKinney’s tremendous dedication to education and public service are felt within and outside of the classroom. She offers students and community members unique opportunities to learn about the world around them.