Keep Nebraska Beautiful Staff
Robert “Bob” Verkuilen,
President and CEO
Bob joined Keep Nebraska Beautiful as President and CEO in March 2021. His love of the outdoors is a great fit with KNB’s mission to reduce waste, increase recycling efforts and beautify our communities. He looks forward to putting his energy towards increasing awareness for KNB and working alongside the KNB Staff and Board to enhance existing and develop new programs. Bob received his degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). Before joining the KNB Team, Bob spent fourteen years in the investment industry and the last twelve years in development/fundraising. In his free time, Bob enjoys golfing, coaching soccer, fishing and spending time with his wife and two daughters.
Melanie Brinkman, Program Associate
Melanie joined KNB in July 2021 and as a Lincolnite, she believes in the mission of KNB of inspiring Nebraskans to take steps to improve & beautify our state. Melanie aspires to educate more Nebraskans of the effectiveness to reduce gratuitous landfill in our local communities by participating in programs like Materials Exchange. Melanie loves walking through the local parks with her two daughters, thrift shopping, and rollerskating.
Pete has been with KNB for 15 years. He is a longtime Lincoln resident, a graduate of UNL, a proud father of 2 great kids, and a prairie lover. In his free time, Pete loves going camping, kayaking, playing disc golf, hiking in nature, and biking. His commitment to KNB is fueled by his desire to help realize the goal of socioeconomic and environmental sustainability. Pete manages the Materials Exchange Program, and the Food Waste Reduction Program, including development of after school Food Club programming in coordination with Nebraska Community Learning Centers. He has also recently taken on maintenance of the School Chemical Cleanup Campaign, and website design.
Social Media Intern
Paige joined the KNB team this year, and is an Emerging Media Arts student at UNL. What drives her in her work is spreading awareness about environmental sustainability and the work done by the organization through social media and graphic design. In her free time, Paige likes to go on hikes, work on personal creative projects, and figure skate. Paige manages the social media of Keep Nebraska Beautiful and assists in any graphic design elements.
Keep Nebraska Beautiful Board
“A landfill client of mine got me involved with KNB through the annual golf event. As an Environmental Consultant providing services to the solid waste sector, I was very impressed by (and supportive of) his and his company’s support of KNB and the Mission to ‘take actions to improve and beautify our communities’ to promote healthy environments to live, work, and play within.” He is a big fan of the School Chemical Clean-Out program and is thoroughly impressed that KNB has affected projects at more than 300 schools since 2008. “There is a big need for technical and financial support and this program has provided both for schools large and small, urban and rural, public and private”!
“My favorite program is the School Chemical Cleanout. There’s a real need there, and I’m glad we are able to help fill it. My personal commitment to sustainability centers around the potential opportunities that re-purpose everything you can in manufacturing. I’ve had tremendous success by finding the value in wastes and finding things to do with them other than landfill them.”
Terry’s employer, along with many other of the board members has been a supporter of KNB through the golf outing. With outside contact, he was asked if he wanted to join the board. from there he learned more about the environmental movement and what he enjoys about KNB. He is a big fan of the School Chemical Cleanout because it helps keep the children safe and healthy.
“I became involved in Keep Nebraska Beautiful following my retirement from teaching at Pender Elementary School for 40+ years. I first joined the Wayne Green Team, a proactive community group, which is involved in many layers of recycling and creating sustainable behavior. They have a great goal: Zero Waste!”I enjoy learning about school programs that are finding success in Nebraska. I believe strongly we must find ways to save items from landfills. One of the best programs KNB supports, in my opinion, is to match up businesses who have a surplus or extras of items and pair them with a group or organization who can benefit from that surplus or byproduct.
Andrew got involved with KNB because he has a passion for the environment, something that he personally follows through the lens of environmental insurance and being on the board. He wants to help Nebraska understand the importance of taking care of its natural resources. His favorite KNB event is the School Chemical Cleanout. “Coming from a small school (and a different era)- the amount of chemicals that were unsafely kept within schools was troublesome. I love what we are able to do for schools that are unaware of what is in their inventory of chemicals.”
“As an environmental professional in Nebraska, this organization was a great fit for me. As a kid, I remember seeing the Keep America Beautiful pubic service announcements about the Indian on a horse looking out upon the land and all of the litter. That left an impression with me.” Matt is fond of the Materials Exchange and the School Chemistry lab Cleanout Program. “Both focus on items that are considered waste that need to be addressed in a safe manner and at times can be used by other people instead of just disposing of them.”
Edie was working with a previous board member, and referred to KNB through them! Edie’s favorite program is the litter program. “I live in a more rural area and see so much litter around my home and I have always thought that it was sad to see. I think that Nebraska is a beautiful state and would like others to see that also.”
“I first became involved with KNB because of a desire to enact positive change on the environment I call home. I see the organization as being a cornerstone for environmental education in Nebraska, and I am thankful for the opportunity to help expand our programs. I am very excited about our new newly recognized “Keep Nebraska Beautiful Day” on June 27th as I hope it encourages people to get out and beautify their communities.”
Dick is an insurance broker who provides advice and assistance to a variety of scenarios and projects dealing with environmental issues. He says, “I wanted to better understand how KNB operated in this environment.” He enjoys the trash and litter program and is excited about food waste reduction programs KNB is doing. He is open and alert for opportunities to pick up litter and to prevent food waste!
“Nebraska is a very special place to me and I wanted to give something back, because I want it to stay beautiful for future generations. We all have an ethical responsibility to help where we can and I wanted to contribute to something I believe in. KNB allows me to put my time and environmental stewardship passion into a statewide organization that supports numerous beneficial programs revolving around a central goal.”
Adam was looking to get more involved in non-profits and had a client suggest KNB to him. “It is an organization I believe in and I’m happy to be a part of. I really am proud of the work KNB does with schools to help inform the next generation of the mission to keep Nebraska beautiful.” Personally he works to keep nature as good or in most cases better than he found it and is working to pass that message on to his children!
“I had a friend (Matthew Gutzmann) who was appointed to the board. After he had been on the board a little while he contacted me and said, ‘this is right up your alley’. I investigated and discovered that it did indeed align with my way of thinking and shortly thereafter I was nominated to join.” Personally, he is the Director of Operations for a company that makes polylactic acid(PLA) plastic from corn. “The plastic we produce has a much lower carbon footprint than plastics produced from oil and is recyclable and can be compostable.”
“I have been interested in environmental issues since the annual high school debate topic focused on the environment. I took environmental law in law school and served as vice president for my law school environmental law group. My law practice has touched on water law, watershed management, and environmental issues in private practice and in my current position as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Lincoln. I was asked to join the board by some fellow City employees when their terms were expired.” Being a part of KNB helps her advertise and expand sustainability efforts she does personally!
“My employer, Chief, has been a long term supporter of KNB. Through the years Chief has participated in KNB events and had a person on the board. I got involved through the annual golf fundraiser a number of years ago and more so when I began serving on the board in 2017. I like all the KNB programs, but the ones that stand out to me are the School Chemical Cleanout, used oil, and the Materials Exchange.”
“I am an avid bicyclist, and as I was riding I would notice an alarming amount of trash along the bike paths and roads. As a result, I started an Adopt a Highway group at Duncan Aviation that goes out to our assigned stretch of road twice a year to pick up litter. I was astonished at the amount of trash we would pick up in just a 3/4 mile stretch. We would end up with 8 to 10 large bags of trash every time. I decided that I wanted to do more to help our environment; that is when I found Keep Nebraska Beautiful.”
Andy got involved with KNB with his knack for finances and with his love for the outdoors. He is a new member who cares about wildlife conservation and litter control. As someone who hunts and fishes responsibly, he sees the positive aspects and drive for conservation when partaking in nature instead of merely observing it.
“I have been aware of KNB for many years and have appreciated all of the programs and the work of affiliates across the state. Nebraska is fortunate to have a strong, statewide network of local entities carrying out environmental stewardship. The opportunity to serve on the Board and help KNB and the local affiliates fulfill their mission was very appealing to me.” His favorite program is the School Chemical Cleanout which helps teachers, schools, the environment all in one.
“I am passionate about my home state and the organizations that work so hard to make it what it is! I’m excited to be a part of an organization with like-minded professionals who are passionate about the mission of Keep Nebraska Beautiful. The concept behind the materials exchange program is an exciting one and I very much appreciate the collaboration available to Nebraska businesses.” She comment on her own life: “Being a parent, we try to ‘lead by example’ by recycling everything that can be recycled. We also grow our own garden and walk/bike wherever we can (almost every day!). When we miss an opportunity for more sustainable living, our children are the first to let us know! I think their willingness and/or motivation to help us ‘course correct’ is certainly exciting for the future!”
Steve is a gubernatorial appointment to the KNB Board of Directors. He is one of the leading attorneys in the Midwest in the areas of natural resources and environmental law, solid waste law, water law, and agricultural law. When not in the office or spending time with his three daughters, Steve enjoys spending time outdoors running, hunting and fishing. He also enjoys politics and public policy, literature, University of Nebraska athletics, and current events.