Who We Are

Jessica Mounts, Executive Director

After nearly two decades in public service, Jessica knows that connecting people to water relies on personal relationships, as well as creative planning and solutions. Using her passion for rivers and streams and the belief that people can only love what they know, Jessica rallied support for the fish passage at the Lincoln Street Dam in Wichita, and secured the designation of National Water Trail for the Arkansas River in Kansas. She has a diverse history of non-profit leadership, serving in various positions on and supporting several local non-profit boards.

Jessica holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology from Newman University, earned a mini-MPA from Wichita State University, and holds certificates in leadership from Kansas University and the Kansas Leadership Center.

Jeff Neel

Jeff Neel is the director of Applied Research, Restoration and Monitoring (ARRM) for KAWS. He believes that we are all in this together, when it comes to sustainable solutions. A Kansan all of his life, his past efforts have contributed to over fifty watersheds, riparian, and wetland assessments and development of many innovative methods – all focused on identifying simple solutions for core ecological problems.

Jeff has a B.S. in Biology from Kansas State University and a M.S. in Environmental Science from Ohio State University. He is a graduate of the Kansas Environmental Leadership Program (KELP), the Agroforestry Academy at the University of Missouri, and Konza Environmental Education Program.

Debra Baker

Debra Baker assists the Executive Director with project management, grant and report writing and organizational capacity. Debra recognizes the connection between the natural and built environments and works to integrate science-based decisions with people and their needs in mind. She believes that natural resource protection can be achieved through knowledge and understanding of these connections. She has more than 30 years of experience in the private and public sectors where she applied her extensive experience in ecosystem studies.

Debra has served on numerous non-profit boards including Friends of the Kaw, Kansas Ground Water Association, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, State Association of Wetland Managers, City of Lawrence Waste Reduction and Recycling Advisory Board, city of Lawrence Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition. She is currently president of the Kansas Land Trust and has been a conservation advocate all of her adult life. Debra holds a Master’s Degree in Botany from the University of Kansas and has completed numerous technical and leadership trainings as continuing education throughout her career.

Bob Culbertson

Bob Culbertson is the coordinator for Toronto, Fall River and Upper Neosho WRAPS Stakeholder Leadership Teams. He also serves as the Eastern Kansas Wetland Coordinator. Bob knows that private landowners in Kansas hold the keys to conservation of natural resources in the state and believes that working directly with them is both rewarding and integral to conserving and improving our soil, water, grasslands, streams, forests, wetlands and wildlife. Bob has been involved with KAWS since 2015, having worked for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism as a Private Land Wildlife Biologist. He served as the Area Biologist in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Emporia working with District Conservationists and landowners in southeast Kansas.

Bob holds a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Biology from Kansas State University. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with the Wildlife Society, is certified in wetland identification and delineation and has completed numerous other training modules. Bob was recognized by the Kansas Wildlife Federation in 2001 as Land and Soil Conservationist of the year.

Doug Blex

Doug Blex is the Coordinator for the Middle Neosho River WRAPS.

Dawn Buehler

Dawn Buehler is a Coordinator for the Lower Kansas WRAPS Program. As a native Kansan and a proud farmer’s daughter, Dawn has spent her career working as a conservationist, accountant, and farmer. Using this unique combination of skills, Dawn works to connect people to the land, water and wildlife through her work in the WRAPS program, and also as the Kansas Riverkeeper for the non-profit Friends of the Kaw. In her role as Riverkeeper, Dawn monitors, responds to, and mediates suspected pollution incidents on the Kansas River and manages advocacy efforts to protect and preserve the river. Dawn’s passion is watershed management and finding ways we can all work together to improve our watershed and the quality of our rivers and streams. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, the Board of Directors for Kansas Land Trust and serves on the Kansas Basin Regional Advisory Committee for the Kansas Water Vision.

Dawn holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration – Accounting from Baker University and a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources – Fish & Wildlife Conservation from Oregon State University.

Wes Fleming

Wes is the coordinator for the Eagle Creek Stakeholder Leadership Team.
He believes nature based solutions to ecological problems maintains the connection between people and the environment.

Wes started with KAWS in 2013. He quickly learned that the people involved with KAWS have the knowledge, experience, and passion to tackle the states most challenging water issues. He is a trained fisheries biologist and completed his masters of science at Fort Hays State University in 2012. His thesis work evaluated aging techniques and recruitment of walleye. Partnered with fellow Fort Hays students Wes helped secure a Chickadee check off grant to study fresh water mussels in the Smokey Hill and Saline Rivers.

Wes currently serves as an environmental biologist at Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation. Additionally, he is the secretary for KAWS, and the Kansas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. He lives in Burlington Kansas, the Catfish Capital of the World, with his Wife Adrienne, and two children Sawyer and Twila.

Dan Haines

Dan Haines is the Coordinator for the Neosho Headwaters / Eagle Creek WRAPS.

Mary Howell

Mary Howell is a Coordinator for the Middle Kansas River WRAPS and assists with outreach at KAWS.

Frank Norman

Frank Norman is the WRAPS coordinator for the Upper Wakarusa Watershed. He has been working with KAWS since 2009 on various wetland mapping and riparian assessment projects in the Upper Wakarusa, the Upper Neosho, Twin Lakes, and Flint Hills watersheds. In addition, Frank spearheaded KAWS efforts in the assessment of wetlands in Kansas for EPA’s National Wetland Conditions Assessment (NWCA) in 2011.   He is also the preserve manager for Grassland Heritage Foundation 140-acre tract of land near Mayetta, Kansas.

During his 29+ years as a plant ecologist and wetland scientist, Norman came to understand the interconnectedness of the land, water, and wildlife and the need to restore the land and water  for future generations.  He believes that this difficult task and will take hard work, ingenuity, persistence and the development of strong partnerships between both public and private sectors.

Frank has a Master’s Degree in Botany from the University of Kansas in 1989, is a professional wetland scientist by the Society of Wetland Scientist since 1998, and has been a certified master herbalist since 2002.

Mike O’Connor

Mike O’Connor is the Coordinator for the Labette Creek Watershed Regional Conservation Partner Project (RCPP) above Grand Lake of the Cherokees. His work focuses on soil conservation projects in the Neosho river basin above Grand Lake. Mike has 35 years of experience working as a soil conservationist with USDA before retiring in 2017 and joining the KAWS team.
Mike has a Associate Degree in Biology from Labette Community College & Bachelor of Science Degree from Kansas State University in Natural Resource Mgmt.

Richard Weber

Richard Weber is a project coordinator for the Upper Wakarusa WRAPS.