Excerpt from interview for Today’s Dietitian magazine June 2012:
“The possibilities of career paths with an RD have changed greatly over the years and I quickly discovered my direction, my passion. It landed me happily working in the areas of Alaskan Traditional and Customary Foods, Breastfeeding Support and Counseling, Diabetes Treatment and Prevention and young Children’s Wellness.”
Working throughout the villages and islands of southeast Alaska is a rewarding experience for Janai Marie Meyer, especially providing for the dietary needs of the native and nonnative people.
She now offers outpatient medical nutrition therapy and works as a certified breast-feeding counselor and in the areas of community wellness, community gardens, subsistence food gathering, and preservation.
“At one point in my drive to finish college, I took a student assistant job with a wonderful RD at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and she strongly encouraged me to pursue my RD and bring those skills home,” Meyer says. “At that time, Alaska didn’t offer the degree, so I had to return to the lower 48 states. I knew I wanted to bring the science, the evidence of sound and traditional nutrition for health and healing back to the people of Alaska. I’ve always been very passionate about representing the field and science of nutrition in a professional manner, especially with the overwhelming amount of fads and misinformation in the popular media.”
Meyer’s desire to get her RD license and return to her home of Alaska remains important to her after all these years, as she cherishes working with the Alaska Native people who practice traditional healing and other customs unique to their culture.
“I very much enjoy the closeness of the smaller, tight-knit communities,” Meyer says. “I also want to continue to support the people of Alaska in strengthening their rich and strong traditions of food gathering, preservation, and health, and I want to continue to encourage and support all women who wish to breast-feed.”
The joys of Meyer’s role also come with challenges. She travels quite a bit to remote villages via float, plane, or ferry through sometimes-treacherous weather conditions. And her travel schedule often infringes on the time she’d like to spend at home with her family. “The independence also can be a challenge, as I don’t have a local group of RD peers, though I do have some long-distance peers,” Meyers says. “But I strive to be seen as trustworthy, consistent, and as a solid and dependable person to all the people and communities I visit.”