Board of Directors


Pictured L-R, top row: Sarah Morse; Kansas Riverkeeper Dawn Buehler, Margaret Fast, Program Manager Kim Bellemere;, Lisa Grossman

 L-R Middle Row:  Mike Butler, Amy Burgin, Sarah Hill-Nelson, Marcia Rozell, Rob Sheffield

L-R Bottom Row:  Mark Dugan, Renee Whaley, Heidi Mehl

Not Pictured:  Mike Scherrer

2022 Board of Directors 

Sarah Morse 2018

President – Sarah Morse, Topeka

Sarah is a born-and-raised Kansan who is proud of the state’s natural resources and is excited to have the opportunity to support the Kansas Riverkeeper and to protect and advocate for the Kansas River as a board member for Friends of the Kaw. Sarah was introduced to the important and impressive work of Riverkeepers when she was as a student attorney and Fellow for the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University’s School of Law in Atlanta, GA. Sarah and the Turner Clinic provided legal support to the Savannah Riverkeeper, and when Sarah returned to Kansas after law school, she was thrilled at the opportunity to support the Kansas Riverkeeper. Sarah lives in Topeka with her husband, daughter, and black lab.

Rob Sheffield 2018

Vice President – Robert Sheffield, Fairway

Rob is serving his second year on the board. He grew up in New Jersey canoeing and camping on the Delaware River and in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. He moved to Washington, DC, for law school and spent ten years there exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains and the many rivers and streams flowing out of them. Rob moved to Kansas in 2012 and practices employment law in Kansas City. He loves exploring the Kansas countryside and getting out on the water when he can. Rob and his wife have a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son and live in Fairway, Kansas.

Secretary – Renée Whaley, Lawrence

Renée is serving her first year on the board. She’s lived in Kansas longer than any other place, and her interest in water began in middle school when she received first place in a state-wide competition identifying water quality issues in freshwater systems. She initially went to Kansas State University for microbiology, but life had other plans and she graduated from the University of Kansas with her Bachelor’s in philosophy. After graduation, she started a job with the City of Lawrence in administration until she was approached about applying for a position within water treatment plant operations. Seizing that opportunity, she has spent almost the past decade working in water treatment with a focus on wastewater treatment. She is a licensed Class IV Water and Wastewater Treatment Operator through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and serves on the leadership team for the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network. Renée is passionate about educating the public on what happens to water once it goes down the drain and dispelling the ick factor of wastewater treatment. She lives in Lawrence with her two cats and in her free time she can be found singing in the barbershop chorus “Flint Hills Harmony,” writing letters to her family and friends, or traveling around Kansas visiting post offices as a member of the Kansas Explorers Club. She’s excited to join Friends of the Kaw and share her knowledge of how river towns like Lawrence “filter” the river through their communities.

Mike Scherrer portrait

Treasurer – Mike Scherrer, Olathe

Mike came to FOK as a retired CPA, having spent time at C&C Group.  Mike holds a BSBA from Colorado State University and a MBA from the University of Kansas.  Mike retired a few years back and wanted to reconnect with the outdoors, so he went to work for REI  and bought a kayak, which led him to FOK.  Mike enjoys spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

Members at Large:

Burgin portrait

Amy Burgin, Lawrence

Amy is a proud native Midwesterner, originally hailing from Lacona, Iowa (population 361).  Originally in college, she thought she wanted to go to medical school, but a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in NY (Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies) and NH got her hooked on aquatic ecology.  She also completed a semester abroad in Costa Rica that further convinced her that ecology was a pretty great way to spend your working life.  She graduated from Coe College with a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Science.  She then started grad school at Michigan State Universityat the Kellogg Biological Station under the guidance of Dr. Steve Hamilton.  While the REU experience got Amy’s feet wet in streams, working with Steve Hamilton broadened her aquatic interests to wetland and lake ecosystems.  After her Ph.D., she moved to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in NY to complete postdoctoral work with Dr. Peter Groffman.  Her project there focused on using sensors to measure environmental variables in riparian wetlands.  She was an Assistant Professor in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2011-2015) and  an Assistant Professor at Wright State University in Dayton, OH (2009-2011).  She joined the University of Kansas (Kansas Biological Survey, Environmental Studies, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Depts.) in January 2016 as an Associate Professor.

Mike Butler, Topeka

After 39 years of working in ambient water quality at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Mike retired in March 2018. His career was protecting the waters of the State of Kansas through water quality modeling, sampling, data transfer, and data analysis. The love of water began during grade school in his hometown of Dubuque, Iowa, with countless hikes along Catfish Creek. The summer hikes always seemed to progress into wading and ultimately full immersion. Throughout high school and into college, his water trips evolved into canoeing and whitewater kayaking in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. Mike received his BS in biology from Loras College in Dubuqe, Iowa, and his water journey continued with a master’s in water resources from Iowa State University. His assistantship was weekly sampling of the Des Moines River, Saylorville Lake and Red Rock Lake. His degree and experience led to his career with KDHE.

Mike brings his lifelong love of rivers and streams to the Friends of the Kaw. Ironically, during his first week of work, he was assigned the task of reviewing a report by a large consulting firm. The report was on the Kaw. Nowhere on any map could Mike find the “Kaw” and had to ask where the river was. His career did allow brief sojourns into the field–where waders were worn and full immersion avoided. The three projects he is most proud of during his career are the establishment of direct lab to EPA data transfer, the establishment of a comprehensive surface water register, and the incorporation of a geographic information system into the Division of Environment.

Mark Dugan 2018

Mark Dugan, Overland Park

Mark is serving his fourth year on the Friends of the Kaw Board and his second year as President. His interest in the Kansas River and other waters arose from his time in Washington, D.C. litigating citizen suits under the Clean Water Act. He now practices law in Overland Park, doing mostly employment and wage law, but also keeping up an environmental law practice. He has also served on the boards of  Mainstream Coalition’s Political Action Committee, St. Andrew Christian Church, and the Kansas City Worker Justice Center. He loves to drive around beautiful eastern Kansas and feels just a little guilty about burning the gasoline. He has two sons and a mischievous beagle, and he lives in Overland Park.

Margaret Fast 2018

Margaret Fast, Ozawkie

Margaret Fast retired in 2017 after spending 39 years employed by the state of Kansas, most of the time with the Kansas water office as a water resource planner.   Duties over the years included focus on water quantity and quality related issues in all the regions of the state.  Most recently, she facilitated the development of the State Water Plan Action Plans for the Kansas Region in her role as staff to Kansas Regional Advisory Committee.

Margaret was raised in the Ohio River Basin in Cincinnati, Ohio and has a Bachelors degree in Biology from Thomas More College in northern Kentucky.  She moved into the Kaw watershed to obtain a Masters in Environmental Health Science from the University of Kansas.  She also has two 200-hour yoga teacher certifications and is actively teaching in Lawrence and Topeka in her retirement.  Margaret and her husband live in the Delaware River Watershed just northwest of Lake Perry.  They have 2 sons; one resides, works,and learns about life in Lawrence; the other is a student at Creighton University in Omaha, in the greater Missouri River basin.

She is an Aquarian (you know, the water bearer!); “Being by water and seeing birds makes me happy”!

Lisa G 2018

Lisa Grossman, Lawrence

Lisa Grossman is a full-time painter and printmaker whose work focuses on the Tallgrass prairies and the Kansas River.

Originally from Pennsylvania, she moved to Kansas City in 1988 for a seven-year stint as an illustrator at Hallmark Cards. She has degrees from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, PA, and the University of Kansas. She’s had over 30 shows around the country and her work is included in numerous public, private, university, and museum collections. Her work is represented by Haw/Contemporary in Kansas City, MO, Circa Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, and Strecker-Nelson West, in Manhattan, KS.

A Friends of the Kaw group float in 1996 inspired her to get a kayak and get involved, and she’s served on their board since 2011, currently as secretary. Kayaking the Kaw is a passion, as well as hiking, birding, playing bass for contra dances, wild edible foraging, and ancestral skills. Grossman also works to apply her art to various conservation efforts and has served as an artist-in-residence in six national parks and recently, with the US Forest Service in Tracy Arm/Fords Terror Wilderness, Alaska.

She has made her home in Lawrence since 1996 with her wife, Kelly, and a couple of cats.

Sarah Hill-Nelson, Lawrence

Sarah Hill-Nelson is a native Kansan and avid outdoorsperson. She spent much of her childhood in Kansas outdoors in the Kansas landscape, hunting, fishing, hiking and boating with her family. She left Kansas at 18 and lived in many different places including Maine, Wyoming, Chile, California, Washington and Colorado. With a deep appreciation for many different landscapes, Sarah returned with her husband to Kansas in 2002 to raise their young family to help run The Bowersock Mills & Power Company (BMPC), which is the historic hydropower plant on the Kansas River. As the Owner/Operator of BMPC, which is a run of river, certified low-impact hydroelectric plant Sarah spends much of her work and play time on and around the Kaw. Her love of rivers and strong connection to the Kansas River led her to join Friends of the Kaw. Through her work and personal life Sarah has been actively engaged in issues pertaining to energy, the environment, and the Lawrence community. She has served as a board member for Friends of the Kaw, the Sustainability Advisory Board for the City of Lawrence, Douglas County CASA, and Landmark National Bank. During her absence from Kansas Sarah graduated magna cum laude from Bowdoin College in 1992, was a Kansas Truman Scholar, and earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Washington in 1995, and a Master’s in Teaching from Seattle University in 1997. She is currently serving as a member of the Kansas Regional Advisory Committee, which weighs in on issues of water quality and quantity in the Kansas River watershed. Ms. Hill-Nelson is married to Eric Nelson, and they have two children.

Heidi Mehl 2018

Heidi Mehl, Lawrence

Heidi Mehl has served on the board of Friends of the Kaw since 2008. Heidi is currently working for the Nature Conservancy, as director of the Beals Healthy Streams for Kansas Initiative. Heidi has been researching water issues in Kansas and abroad since her undergraduate years at the University of Kansas. After receiving her B.S. and M.A. from the University of Kansas, she went on to do her Ph.D. research in the Department of Geography at Kansas State University, with a focus on fluvial geomorphology, nutrient cycling in riparian zones, and cultural issues surrounding water resources. Her research has included a partnership with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, as well as Gorno-Altaisk State University in Siberian Russia. Heidi also formerly worked on the Upper Wakarusa Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS), and for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Heidi’s favorite hobbies include kayaking on the Kansas River, hiking, and boating with her husband Martin on Clinton Lake.

Marcia Rozell 2018

Marcia Rozell, Manhattan

Marcia Rozell is an avid outdoor enthusiast.  Her personal motto is “Life is precious and short, so get outside and do”.  She will try almost anything.  In her professional life, she promotes Visit Manhattan to the visitor and loves connecting people in the Little Apple.

She and her husband, Tim, have called Manhattan, KS home for over twenty years.