Meet the Staff

Aaron Deters

Executive Director

Headquarters, Holton, KS

As a young farm kid growing up in northeast Kansas, Aaron spent countless days walking and wading the creeks that flowed through their farms. Little did he know, the time spent fishing and saving minnows from receding pools was molding a passion for a future in conservation.

While the first three-quarters of his professional career was spent primarily on terrestrial habitat, including a host of wetland projects, it was not until 2017, while working with access on the Kansas River, that he re-discovered a passion for rivers and streams. Throughout Kansas, the rivers, streams, and wetlands are often overlooked by those outside of conservation. Aaron is thankful organizations, such as KAWS, exist to give a voice to some of Kansas’ most important natural resources.

Before coming to KAWS in 2021, Aaron spent 16 years with the KS Department of Wildlife & Parks as a Wildlife Biologist Technician, District Wildlife Biologist and most recently the Region 2 Wildlife Biologist Supervisor in Topeka. Even though much of Aaron’s experience has been in public service working on private lands, he spent 4 years working with conservation related issues in the private sector.

Aaron served as the Production Manager for Star Seed, Inc. where he focused on native grass, wildflower, and cover crop seed production. Aaron was also a Project Manager for Juniper Environmental where he worked with environmental assessments and T&E species mitigation.

Aaron holds a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Biology from Kansas State University and currently resides outside of Holton. He enjoys spending his free time hauling kids to their various activities, hunting, fishing, kayaking, and planting and harvesting a variety of vegetables in his high tunnel.

Libby Albers

Assistant Director

Newton, KS Office

Libby Albers has recently returned to her long-held career field in natural resources as Assistant Director of the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Stream, after serving as Director of the Hesston Public Library for five years.  Prior to library work, Libby managed the WATER Center in Wichita, KS – a groundwater remediation and environmental education initiative – for twelve years. Her work experience with KDWPT Fisheries, the Great Plains Nature Center, and AmeriCorps reflects her passion for Kansas’ natural environment.

Libby was named Hesston, Kansas’ “Citizen of the Year” in 2015.  She received the “Water Conservationist” award from the Kansas Wildlife Federation in 2011, the “Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education Award” from KACEE in 2007, and KDHE’s “Pollution Prevention” award in 2011.

Libby has undergraduate degrees in English (Kansas Newman College) and Biology (Wichita State University) as well as a Masters of Science Natural Resource Interpretation (Stephen F. Austin State University) and a Masters in Library & Information Science (Emporia State University). She holds certifications from the Kansas Leadership Center, the Kansas Environmental Leadership Program, and the National Association for Interpretation.

Libby’s interests include treasured time with her kids, camping, gardening, and working on her 120-year-old house.  She loves Kansas and regularly geeks out on local history, native plants, and back road adventures.

Bob Culbertson

Wetland Coordinator

Toronto-Fall River Watershed

Bob serves as the Eastern Kansas Wetland Coordinator. He 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 as the coordinator for Toronto, Fall River and Upper Neosho WRAPS and previously worked for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks 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.

Adam Bauer

Watershed Coordinator

Milford Lake Watershed

Adam is the Coordinator for the Milford Reservoir WRAPS.

Adam Bauer, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, has been hired as the Watershed Coordinator for the Milford Lake Watershed. Most recently, Adam worked for Pheasants Forever in partnership with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism assisting tenant farmers on the wildlife area and help to promote sustainable farming practices by using cover crops in crop rotations.

Adam brings his expertise in private lands, ArcGIS and Google Earth to the KAWS team.

Megan Rush

Watershed Coordinator

Kansas River Watershed

Megan is the Coordinator for both the Middle and Lower Kansas River WRAPS.

Megan Rush is the Watershed Coordinator for Middle Kansas River Watershed. Megan is based out of Lawrence, KS and graduated from the University of Kansas with a master’s in Environmental Assessment. When she isn’t working on water quality, you can find her kayaking or stand up paddling boarding on the water, traveling, or petting every animal she comes across.

Andrew Rutter

Watershed Coordinator

Upper Wakarusa Watershed

Based out of Lawrence, Andrew serves as the Upper Wakarusa Watershed Coordinator. He has been involved with WRAPS since 2021, having worked for the Kansas Department of Health & Environment prior to KAWS. Having served as Fish Kill Response Coordinator and Project Officer for several WRAPS watersheds during his time with KDHE, Andrew has a unique perspective on the role industry and agriculture play in shaping water quality in Kansas. Andrew recently returned to Kansas after working as a wildlife ecologist in Illinois; there he managed human/wildlife conflict and studied the impacts of suburban sprawl on fragmented wildlife populations. Prior to that, he studied river otter ecology in southern Illinois. 

Andrew holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Emporia State University and a Master of Science in Forestry from Southern Illinois University. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist® with The Wildlife Society. When he’s not managing wildlife habitat on his family’s land in southeast Kansas, you can find him hunting, fishing, or trapping. He also enjoys the food and music scene of Lawrence.

Laramie Unruh

Project Coordinator, Arkansas River

Wichita Area

Laramie is the project coordinator for the Arkansas River Water Trail. A Wichita native, Laramie is thrilled to work on the river she grew up on and improve the quality of access to the Arkansas River. Her love of conservation started with a high school internship at the WATER Center in Wichita. Laramie has spent the last three years as a Wilderness Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service in Wyoming and has also worked with the National Park Service at Isle Royale National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. She is passionate about helping people learn about their public lands and is certified through the National Association of Interpreters.

Laramie graduated with her Bachelors in Biology from Pittsburg State University. When she’s not working she can be found hiking, kayaking, and playing with her pup.

 

Brandon Houck

Watershed Coordinator

John Redmond Watershed

Brandon grew up on Rock Creek Ranch in northwest Lyon County where he developed an appreciation for streams and creeks at a young age.  He  has BS and MS  degrees in wildlife and natural resource management and is a certified wildlife biologist and National Conservation Leadership Institute Fellow.  Houck worked for the National Wild Turkey Federation for 15 years before joining the US Forest Service for the past eight.  Brandon and his family recently decided it was time to return home to Kansas.  He’s excited to work as watershed coordinator in the part of Kansas where he grew up.  In their spare time, the Houck family enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, swimming, school sports, 4-H  and keeping reptiles and amphibians.

Tamara Hillman

Conservation Specialist

NRCS State Office

Tamara grew up in rural south-central Michigan surrounded by a mix of forest and agriculture. A self-described child of the dirt, she spent countless hours catching critters, biking, climbing trees (and falling out of them), wandering public land looking for mushrooms and sheds, running through corn fields, and walking down to the creek to have stick races with her siblings.

This love of the outdoors grew into a passion to study wildlife biology after high school. Upon earning her B.A. and M.S. from Grand Valley State University in west-Michigan, Tamara traveled the country to wherever the jobs were, eventually landing in Kansas as a fauna Field Ecologist with the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). In 2021, Tamara met Aaron Deters through outreach with NEON, and upon learning more about KAWS and its partners, became interested in the intricate relationship between agriculture and water in Kansas. Seeking an opportunity for growth and expansion of knowledge, Tamara joined KAWS and the NRCS as a Conservation Specialist working with the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

During her free time Tamara enjoys hiking, kayaking, strength training, painting, drawing, and baking sweets. She has one giant rescue dog named Winston, two little fish, and an increasingly large number of house plants taking over her Manhattan apartment.

Derek Haines

Conservation Technician

John Redmond Watershed

Derek is the Conservation Technician in the John Redmond Reservoir Watershed and works closely with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Derek brings a unique blend of skills and experiences to his work at KAWS.  He has over a decade of agricultural Co-op management experience, time with law enforcement and in fleet maintenance, and most notably served as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He has transformed the Conservation Technician role into a full-service conservation program offering everything from brush clearing to interseeding cover crops.

When not at work, you can find Derek with his family, working on the farm, or indulging in his love of classic cars.