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St. Louis’ green advocate: Jean Ponzi

 Posted by on March 19, 2009
Mar 192009

By Laura Elizabeth May
Green Right Now

Every Tuesday night at 7:00, Jean Ponzi steps behind the microphone as the host and producer for her weekly environmental talk show, “Earthworms,” where she interviews local, regional and national guests on the topics of sustainable living and being environmentally conscious on St. Louis’s community radio KDHX. The show has been running for 21 years and Ponzi has been talking about going green long before it was the cool thing to do.

“For nearly 20 years, the topics I care about were marginalized in our society – then in 2007 green got ‘in’. Many sources are now repeating the kinds of messages I delivered as a minority voice for years,” Ponzi says.  This new popularity helps her to deliver a much deeper message about the human interconnection with Earth’s resources, she explains: “I am able to talk about what our species needs to learn to coexist in healthy, sustainable relationships with every other kind of living thing on Earth.”

“Over the years, Jean has presented conversations with countless authors, researchers, teachers and other experts, and it is amazing to me how much information she conveys each week in such an entertaining manner,” said Larry Weir, operations manager for KDHX. When not behind the radio mic, Ponzi’s job is to educate the people and businesses of St. Louis how to drop their wasteful ways in exchange for a sustainable lifestyle.

As the Green Resources Manager for Missouri Botanical Garden’s EarthWays Center, Ponzi has taken on the challenge of educating St. Louis. The EarthWays center strives to inform residents about practical ways to conserve natural resources. Ponzi proudly states that the garden has been “green for 150 years.” Ponzi gets her message across through various public talks, adult education classes and media interviews. She helps local businesses form “Green Teams” to identify and achieve sustainability goals in the office. She also serves as the St. Louis region’s Residential Green Building Advocate, another aspect of her city job, she promotes residential Green Building practices to homeowners and home builders.

In a nut shell, Ponzi is the go-to gal in St. Louis for residents who want to go green. She is able to help residents check facts and learn about products, practices and service providers and also help avoid citizens and businesses avoid “green-washing” solicitations.

“If Jean Ponzi were to leave St. Louis, it would be a tremendous loss for the environmental community, and an equally tremendous gain to wherever she decided to be,” said Weir.

Growing up in Wisconsin, she entered the working world knowing nothing about environmental issues. She first encountered the world of Ecology accidentally while doing video production work for Missouri Botanical Garden. “I was immediately hooked on a field that is all about systems, cycles and interconnected relationships of diverse living things,” said Ponzi. Ever since this chance encounter, she has focused her work on communicating the importance of environmental topics.

Whether you tune into her radio show, give her a call, or send an email Ponzi is just waiting to tell you about the importance of green living. “Our species needs to learn to coexist in healthy sustainable relationships with every other kind of living thing on Earth,” she said.

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