Gus von Roenn PDC
Founder & Executive Director
Gus is an advocate for permaculture and sustainable practices throughout Nebraska. He works through many organizations like the Nebraska Farmers Union, the Sierra Club, Nebraskans for Solar, Nebraska Sustainability Agricultural Society, and the Metro Omaha Food Policy Council to elevate the discussion of issues surrounding healthy food accessibility, land stewardship and entrepreneurship in low-income communities. His academic background is in anthropology, sociology, archaeology, and permaculture. Currently, Gus is a certified permaculture designer with his own permaculture design consulting firm and landscaping crew to install the designs. As an advocate for everything permaculture and sustainability in Nebraska, he likes to help many organizations teach their constituents the limitless opportunities that create abundance in all of our communities for all of us to share.
Graham Herbst is a native Nebraskan and graduate of the Horticulture Program at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. After working in the landscape and arboriculture industries, he moved to the Nebraska Forest Service to promote innovative Urban Forestry projects as the Community Forestry Specialist for Eastern Nebraska. Graham loves growing trees and food at home, connecting people and information through social media, and bringing the family out to plant trees and explore each corner of the Great Plains.
Dr. Ted Burk PhD Citizens Science
Ted Burk grew up in the small town of Scranton, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas, graduating in 1974 with a B.A. in Biology. He was a graduate student at New College of the University of Oxford as a Danforth Fellow and Rhodes Scholar, earning a D. Phil. in Zoology in 1979 under the supervision of the controversial evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. After a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Florida, he joined the Creighton University Biology Department in 1982, becoming Professor of Biology in 1996. He was Chair of the Department of Biology from 1990 to 2000 and Interim Chair of the Department of Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences in 2002-2003. He has received the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Outstanding Advising, and Professional Excellence in Service. He teaches a wide variety of courses at Creighton, including Animal Behavior, Conservation Biology, and Entomology. His research interests are in behavioral and conservation biology, especially of insects; his ongoing study of prairie butterfly populations and their flower use is in its 21st year. He is the author of 30 papers and book chapters and is co-author of the textbook Biology of Animal Behavior. Much of his professional activity involves “citizen science” projects in which members of the public help collect information important in conservation of wild species and habitats.
Graham Christensen Citizens Science
While at Nebraska Farmers Union Graham Christensen organized landowners against the KXL Pipeline, helped lead efforts to educate rural Nebraskans about climate change and renewable energy, and helped enroll 1.2 million agriculture acres into a carbon sequestration program to help farmers and ranchers utilize techniques designed to lower GHG emissions.
Christensen is the President of his company GC Resolve, which focuses on grassroots community development, mobilization, and education with an emphasis on environment. Current projects under GC Resolve include raising awareness about Nebraska’s rising water quality issues caused by corporate farming and also educating and advocating for a change in the food production system to “regenerative” farming and ranching principles.
Christensen recently started his second business GC ReVOLT, a solar and alternative energy development company. Graham is still actively involved in operating Christensen Farms, Inc. with his family, and currently serves as the State Secretary for the Nebraska Farmers Union.
Janet Bonet Conservation
Janet Bonet, a community activist with a passion for inclusive public participation in neighborhood improvement projects, is a graduate of the University of the Americas (Cholula, Mexico), with post-graduate studies (ABT) in racial and ethnic relations at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In her career as a professional Spanish/English interpreter and translator. In 1999,she co-founded the Nebraska Association of Translators & Interpreters and has served on numerous national professional boards, promoting language access and professional standards of practice, formal certification and ethics education for translators and . Janet is a life-long resident of South Omaha, Nebraska, and resides on the edge of Spring Lake Park in the home where she was raised. As an outspoken neighborhood leader in the South Omaha area for over 30 years, Janet has served as an officer or board member of several community-based organizations, including the South Omaha Neighborhood Association, Spring Lake Neighborhood Association, South Omaha Community Care Council, South Omaha Business Association and is the current President of the Spring Lake Park Team (SLPT), which she helped found in 1992 for the sake of, as the Team moto states, “Keeping Nature in the City”. SLPT has been focused on putting the lake back in Spring Lake Park and saving the woodland and stream areas of the park from becoming a landfill as the southern half of the park did in the 1960s. Representing the SLPT, Janet attended more than two dozen national conferences including EPA, Brownfields, Groundwater Guardians, Center for Health and Environmental Justice, Community Development, and Stormwater Management; often presenting on the lake project and the essential role of neighborhood resident inclusion. When the sewer separation regulations were instituted, Janet served on the original citywide CSO steering committee, subsequently becoming the lead community contact for the CSO team’s work in the park. The Spring Lake Park’s lake is back! Janet has fearlessly presented and defended the neighborhood perspectives and vision throughout her time on neighborhood boards. Her activism focus is on developing respectful, positive partnerships for the good of the neighborhood’s residents and businesses that will have to live with the finished projects after the designers, engineers, and regulators have moved on. Along with her neighborhood-based environmental and civic activism, Janet has spent countless hours facilitating and often demanding language access and cross-cultural inclusivity for all residents of South Omaha.
Ellen Duysen Health
Ellen Duysen serves as the Coordinator and Outreach Specialist for the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health. CS-CASH is one of 11 NIOSH funded Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Centers. Ellen raised hogs, cattle and three rascally boys on farms in Colorado and Iowa. This experience provided her with an understanding of the many hazards related to farming and ranching. Ellen has put these experiences into practice while working with farmers and ranchers in an effort to reduce agricultural injury and fatality rates.
Kirsten Koba Grants
Committed to growing an equitable and sustainable world, Kirsten Koba is a nonprofit development specialist, writer, yoga guide, and change agent. As a Senior Associate at Comprehensive Prospect Research, Kirsten integrates her expertise in fundraising research, strategic planning, marketing, and program development to help clients (including environmental, education, health, and social justice organizations) tap into their greatest fundraising potential. As a writer, her work has been published in numerous magazines including Ms., Shout, Earnshaw’s, Footwear Plus, City, SoHo Style, and The Reader. As a yoga instructor, Kirsten aims to create an empowering space where students of all backgrounds feel valued and authentically themselves. Kirsten believes that the practices of moving inward through yoga and mindfulness, and connecting outward through social activism are intrinsically linked, and is therefore dedicated to inspiring change through multiple modalities. Kirsten received her B.A. in Magazine Journalism from Drake University in 2000 and her M.A. in Environment and Community from Antioch University Seattle in 2009. She holds certifications in Permaculture Design, Integrated Skills for Sustainable Change, and Ecological Planning & Design, and is a certified yoga teacher with over 500 hours of training. Additionally, she is the Chair of Pranam Seva, a founding member of Raise the Roots, a former member of the boards of Pacific Bamboo Resources and the Antioch University Alumni Association, and a mother to a wildly artistic son. As a longtime resident of both New York City and Seattle, WA, and a current resident of Omaha, NE, Kirsten values the diverse experiences of people across the country and considers herself a citizen of the world.
Miles Adams Treasurer
Miles takes a vision and produces a reality through robust strategy innovation. He intuitively sees the strings of connection that are threaded through an organization, seams them together into continuity, encourages others to expand their thinking, and guides tangible organizational advantage. He is an inspirational leader who communicates ideas that embolden action while at the same time is disciplined in financial science that drives an organization. Esteemed as a credible voice in resolution making and establishing strategic financing partners, Miles earns a spot at the table wherever he serves.
Currently, as a financial representative at Mutual of Omaha, a policyholder owned, Fortune 500 insurance and investment company, Miles is a leader on one of the best teams in the top producing agency in the country for the company. He has partnered with gerontologists and the largest in-home health care provider in the world Home Instead by conducting seminars and focus groups for senior aging populations and organized financial education literacy series for businesses and community associations throughout the Midwest, most notably the largest furniture store company in the country, Nebraska Furniture Mart. He is now launching programming with Goodwill Industries and Angels Among Us to help underprivileged youth and families afflicted by childhood cancers.
Miles pursued a BA in Philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a strong emphasis in environmental ethics and philosophy of social science. He has served in different capacities with nonprofits in Omaha centered around sustainability and green energy, namely Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue, Omaha Biofuels Coop, and Nebraskans for Solar.
Christine Ross New Americans
I work as a Community Engagement Manager at Charles Drew Health Center Inc.
Volunteer: Founder and CEO of the Refugee Women Organization of Nebraska (RWON) a Non – profit organization created with the aim to Empower and assist the refugee women with their integration process into their new Home. Also Leader of the International Women’s Day Celebration at Omaha.
Biography: I am originally from South Sudan an Agricultural country. Came to the United State in 1995, and resettled in Mankato MN. I Started school in the United State with ESL (English as a second language) then went and did GED (General Education Diploma), after that I went to Minnesota State University, where I obtain my BS in Medical Technology in 2001, there after work as a Laboratory Technologist at Hennepin County Medical Center, then at Woodwind Health Campus, and finally at Oxboro Health Center in Bloomington Before deciding to pursuer a different career. My next career quest was in Public Health, and that is how I ended up in Omaha. In 2015 I move to Omaha after being accepted to UNMC/UNO Public Health program. In 2009 I was the first student to graduate from UNMC Collage of Public Health when it became the Collage of Public Health School not a department as it was before.
I am an active community member of Omaha, a refugee advocate, refugee story teller and have worked with the refugees in different sector. I help develop and educate refugee leaders with OTOC education group, went to the White House to advocate for the refugee single mothers and widowers in 2014, went to Toronto Canada to present on a project on refugee women and cancer awareness 2013, We did a lot of things that yield fruits.
With the Refugee Women organization of Nebraska, we started the International Women’s day celebration in Omaha, which is going strong in Omaha and extending to Lincoln next year, with this group, we help the refugee women who I know the “straggle is real” financially with “Maxi Pads” drive every February to March 8.
Sarah Shepherd Secretary
Sarah Shepherd is an Omaha native and primary garden teacher who is passionate about inspiring children to love and explore the natural world through creative nature curriculum. She has assisted schools throughout Nebraska since 1999, and has developed an appreciation of communities large and small. Sarah combines her organizational skills and practicality with her love for the outdoors, bringing passion and thoughtfulness to Omaha Permaculture as a board member and Secretary.
Ve Nessa Strong-Hardy
Ve Nessa Strong-Hardy is one of the newest board members of Omaha Permaculture. She was born, raised and lived in Omaha her entire life. After working for Mutual of Omaha for nearly 14 years, she worked for a short while at Union Pacific Railroad before accepting a position with the City of Omaha in 2012. After working in the Planning Department’s Permits and Inspections Division for three years, she took a position at the Omaha Police Department, Northwest Precinct, where she is currently employed. In her spare time, she is always seeking opportunities to volunteer and get involved in various community organizations. She has a passion for lending an extra hand, helping when she can, cultural involvement and community needs. Having deep seeded roots in North Omaha, she strives not only to educate herself, but to pass along her great-grandparents, grandparents and mother’s legacy to her children and grandchildren. Ve Nessa also enjoys spending time with family, cooking, trying new foods, learning new languages and traveling.