Member Spotlight - Mekenzie Riley


Mekenzie Riley, MS, RD


Tell us about your job.

I am the Nutrition and Wellness Educator for University of Illinois Extension serving the counties of Knox, Henderson, Warren and McDonough counties. I provide nutrition education to the communities of these counties-from public to private requests, face to face or social media, I try and provide useful, current nutrition information on the local, state and worldwide level! 


What do you find most interesting about your job?

It's interesting to interact with people of various demographics (different education levels, knowledge backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, etc) and to see the differences in obstacles/issues that each deal with, nutrition wise.


How did you get into this field?

Growing up as an athlete I always took a personal interest in nutrition, feeding myself properly for recover and performance in sports. I knew I wanted to do something related to the field as a career-once I got experience in college/internships, I knew working in the community arena was the fit for me.


Where were you born and raised?

I am originally from a small farm town in Central Illinois-Sullivan, Illinois.


Where did you go to college and/or complete your internship?

I attended junior college at Lincoln College in Lincoln, IL for 2 years, transferred to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL where I finished my BS and completed my MS/internship program. I was able to get a great experience at Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign, IL as my internship site, through EIU.


Besides your profession, what are your hobbies?

My biggest "hobby" is my new husband, and even newer puppy. There is nothing else I'd rather spend my time doing than relaxing them with them in our home!

Another very big part of my life is the sport of CrossFit, in which I compete competitively on a local/nation/worldwide level on a regular basis. I log upwards of 12 hours in the gym a week-pushing myself and inspiring others.


What are your favorite foods?

I have always been a peanut butter monster! I am also a sucker for dark chocolate! oh, and pizza :)

But I also love every fruit, sweet potatoes, broccoli and kombucha to drink!


Anything else you would like other members to know about yourself?

I love partnering, leading my efforts, and doing things on a bigger scale-so if anyone ever needs extra help or some outside input, I'm always happy to take part! I'm a big advocate of teamwork. I’m trying to really connect with others, so please feel free to add me on Facebook: Mekenzie Riley or "Like" my professional page "University of Illinois Nutrition and Wellness-West Central Illinois."

Twitter: @itskenzieriley or @WCILNutriWell

Instagram: @itskenzieriley


How long have you been a member of NEPDPG?

Since last about 8 months now.


Why did you join Nutrition Education for the Public DPG?

After working a year in the community nutrition field, and learning that I'll most likely be in this field awhile, I wanted to branch out network, see what other professionals in the field were doing, and just connect to some good opportunities to learn through others experiences!


Interview by Carol Berg Sloan RD