Laura Mendenhall grew up in Olathe, Kansas where she cultivated a strong outdoor ethic after joining the Boy Scouts of America Venturing Co-ed Scout program at age 14. Following undergraduate studies in conservation biology and Spanish at Kansas State University and graduate studies in spatial analysis for conservation at Duke University, Laura started her now 9 year career as a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first at the California Condor Recovery Program in Ventura, California and now in Kansas. Laura lives in rural Riley County where she enjoys hunting, birding, landscaping with native plants, and finding innovative ways to reduce trash.
Director, Southeast Kansas
Rick Hines grew up on a farm near Erie, Kansas. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science and History at Pittsburg State University, where he served as Student Body President. Rick did graduate work in political science at the University of Missouri – Columbia and received his law degree at the University of Kansas where he was a Notes and Comments Editor on the Law Review. He also served two years active duty as an officer in the Army Security Agency, Military Intelligence. Rick has had a law practice in Erie, Kansas for over 40 years, which has included general trial practice, as well as a substantial practice in the areas of water law and eminent domain actions. He represents over 40 rural water districts and seven Public Wholesale Water Districts (comprised of approximately 100 cities and water districts). He has also committed time to several other non-profit foundations. When not practicing law, Hines enjoys farming, running, and adventure hiking, such as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Everest base camp, the Inca trail in Peru, the W Trek in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, etc. Hines and his wife, Mary, have three daughters and eight grandchildren.
Director, South-Central Kansas
Lyndzee Rhine grew up in a small, Northcentral Kansas town where she developed an appreciation for all things natural and native to Kansas. In 2014, she graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and graduated with her master's in science education in 2017.
Taking her first steps into the world of environmental education, she worked at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, KS as an Educator. She is currently employed with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism as the Outdoor Skills and Recruitment Coordinator. Lyndzee has an affinity for fungi, camping, hunting, and fly-fishing.
Director, North-Central Kansas
Born and raised in southwest Kansas, Alfonso Leyva grew up in rural Seward County and has an agricultural background. He graduated with a Master of Landscape Architecture degree in 2016. As Park Planner with the City of Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department, Alfonso supports and leads planning, design, and management of capital improvement projects for the parks, recreation, and zoo divisions. He is responsible for community engagement; preparation of conceptual plans, construction documents, master plans, reports, and cost estimates; and works with other staff, as required, in project development, planning, and implementation. Designing with nature is a goal in his work. Alfonso enjoys hiking with his furry hound Duke, camping, kayaking, fishing, and trap shooting.
Director, Southwest Kansas
Jeffrey Seim grew up on a farm north of Grand Island, NE where he was free to explore his curiosities of the outdoor world. After completing his undergraduate (2013) and graduate (2015) degrees in biology from Fort Hays State University, Jeff began his career working with Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. There he has conducted research as a seasonal Ecological Technician, performed wildlife conservation as a Private Lands Biologist, and currently works as a Fisheries/Wildlife Biologist with the Ecological Services Section of the agency. Jeff currently lives in Pratt, KS where he enjoys gardening, beekeeping, trapping, hunting, and fishing.
Director of Conservation Partnerships
Steven Bender is a teacher and a wildlife biologist by training and education. He has worked as a biology teacher, a private lands biologist, a statewide planner for nongame species and a nonprofit strategist and advisor. He currently works for the National Wildlife Federation as a Director of Conservation Partnerships. He partners with the Kansas Wildlife Federation (KWF) and acts as an advisor to the group and a liaison between KWF and the National Wildlife Federation.
Senior Strategic Planning Advisor
Dr. Chris Hamilton
Dr. Hamilton is a political science professor at Washburn University, a nature enthusiast, and a strategic planning professional.
Matt Nowak worked for more than 36 years as the forester and natural resources specialist at Fort Leavenworth, which is about 6,000 acres on the Missouri River in northeast Kansas. Matt is also a retired military officer living in Lansing where he maintains an organic garden. His primary natural resources interest for Kansas is seeing the entire state covered with either grass, timber, or cover crops so that every acre is green the year around. That would reduce erosion of soils into our precious water storage reservoirs and improve fishing and hunting.
Biography coming soon.
Rachel is a Kansas local who specializes in wildlife and science communication, with a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Management from K-State. She co-founded the nonprofit Grassland Groupies to give a voice to grasslands conservation, and has a soft spot for modern avian dinosaurs.
Cassie earned her degree in Strategic Communication from Wichita State University, where she first lobbied the Kansas legislature on behalf of student government. Over the last seven years, she has worked in marketing, volunteer organizing, and conservation. As an avid hiker, camper, and spider enthusiast, Cassie is passionate about making the outdoors safe and fun for everyone.
Biology graduate from Wichita State University, lover of plants, insects, and all things creepy-crawly.
South Central Region Affliates:
Alabama Wildlife Federation
Arkansas Wildlife Federation
Florida Wildlife Federation
Georgia Wildlife Federation
Iowa Wildlife Federation
Kansas Wildlife Federation
Louisiana Wildlife Federation
Mississippi Wildlife Federation
Conservation Federation of Missouri
Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma
Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña
South Carolina Wildlife Federation
Texas Conservation Alliance
Virgin Islands Conservation Society
South Central Regional Center
Headquarters of the Regional Office
505 East Huntland Drive, Suite 485
Austin, TX 78752
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