Our Team

Dawn Buehler, Kansas Riverkeeper

Dawn Buehler, Kansas Riverkeeper

Dawn Buehler is the Kansas Riverkeeper® & Executive Director of Friends of the Kaw.  She can be reach at riverkeeper@kansasriver.org.  In addition to managing the daily activities of FOK, she monitors, responds and mediates suspected pollution incidents to Kansas River; facilitates our educational paddle trips; and manages our advocacy efforts to protect and preserve the Kansas River.

Growing up on a farm on the plains of Kansas, Dawn knew at young age how much she loved the land, water and nature.  Dawn was born and raised in the Kaw River Valley in DeSoto on a 2,000 acre crop farm.  The family farm ran along the Kansas River in DeSoto. She spent her childhood riding alongside her father learning about the importance of taking care of the soil, water and providing for the family. She also spent many hours on the beautiful Kansas River fishing, camping, canoeing and riding in her Dad’s airboat.  Her love for the river began at this early age when she would sit and watch the sunset on the river at the end of each farm day.

Dawn continued to help on the farm and also went on to college after high school and earned both a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Conservation from Oregon State University and a Bachelor in Business Administration from Baker University.  Dawn has spent her career working as a conservationist, accountant and farmer.  Dawn’s passion is watershed management and finding ways we can all work together to improve our watershed and the quality of the Kansas River.  As a Kansas native, Dawn has a vested interest and passion for the river.

Dawn is happiest when she is outdoors.  You can often find her fishing, hiking, kayaking, reading and exploring. Dawn lives with her family, including two chocolate labrador retrievers, on their farm south of Eudora.


Kim Mahanna-Bellemere, Program Manager

Kim Mahanna-Bellemere is the Program Manager for Friends of the Kaw and can be reached at kim.bellemere@kansasriver.org.  Kim manages the Programs including grant programs, River Cleanups, Educational Paddle Trips, Adopt-A-Boat Ramp, and Ecosystem Restoration Projects.  Kim comes to us with a strong non-profit background, recently serving as the Director of Outreach for the Grassland Heritage Foundation (GHF) where she oversaw GHF’s education activities for children and adults focusing on the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.  Kim came to GHF after a career in health education and non-profit management. Although always concerned about environmental issues, she made the move to environmental education after starting a family and realizing she wanted to do more to protect Kansas’ natural resources. Kim holds a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Kansas with a special focus on Community Health and Microbiology.

In addition to her work with GHF, she is a co-founder and current co-chair of the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network, a co-founder and current Planning Committee member of the Kaw Valley Native Plant Coalition, and is a member of the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council.   A lifelong Kansan, Kim truly understands the crucial role the native environment plays in our cultural and environmental heritage and the importance of preserving it for future generations.

Kim lives north of Lawrence with her husband and two sons.  When she isn’t stewarding the Kansas River, she can be found reading and gardening.


Denise Kidder, Education Specialist

Denise Kidder is the Education Coordinator for Friends of the Kaw and can be reached at denise.kidder@kansasriver.org. Denise facilitates and coordinate our Kids About Water (KAWS) Program, our Water’s Journey Program and all K-12 Programs.  Denise was born in Iowa, but moved to Kansas City when she was twelve.  She attended Truman State University and received a degree in Elementary Education, and later a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction at UMKC.  Her teaching career began in the inner city of Kansas City, Kansas but she moved to the Blue Valley School District and taught both at the elementary and middle school. As well as teaching public school for twenty years she also worked as a consultant for the University of Hawaii, training teachers in during the summer.  Recently, Denise has developed and implemented water quality educational programs  for students in the KC Metro.  Her husband, Paul is currently teaching science in the Shawnee Mission School District.  They have a daughter who attends Johnson County Community College.  Denise loves to cook, travel and spend time exploring nature. She really enjoys interacting with students and teachers, while providing valuable life learning experience through the educational programs offered by Friends of the Kaw.


Brian Schath, Intern & KU Student

Brian Schath is interning this semester with Friends of the Kaw. He can be reached at brian.schath@kansasriver.org. In May, he graduated with a BS in Environmental Studies and a minor in Communication and is now in the graduate program at KU. Raised in Shawnee, Brian has known Kansas to be his home. He loves travel, and the thrill of meeting new people in exiting places. In the past, Brian has held several other internships and positions. In the summer of 2017 he interned with Giral, an environmental consulting company in São Paulo, Brazil. After returning to the United States, He began an internship with CleanAirNow. During this time he would take air samples in KCK and Lawrence, help write and implement their Charter and Bylaws, and in September 2018 was elected onto the Board of Directors. He is passionate about connecting people with the environment and is ready to take every opportunity to do so.