Don Wilhite is a professor emeritus in Applied Climate Science at the School of Natural Resources. He joined the faculty at University of Nebraska - Lincoln in 1977. During his tenure at UNL, Don founded the National Drought Mitigation Center in 1995 and served as its director until 2007 when he was appointed director of SNR. He was one of four authors of the UNL climate change study published in 2014 and organized eight sector-based roundtables on climate change in the fall 2015. Don is passionate about the urgent need to develop and implement adaptation and mitigation strategies in response to current and projected changes in our climate and the implication of these changes on Nebraska, our nation and the global community.
Bruce Johnson is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska—Lincoln where his primary teaching and research focus areas were resource and environmental economics. As a native Nebraskan with farming roots, he has always held a deep appreciation for the rich land and water resources of this state—and the responsibility for wise conservation and stewardship of that endowment. With the challenges of climate change, he believes more than ever that sound climate action today is not only a moral obligation to humanity, but also is economically-doable and prudent for current and future generations alike. He and his wife keep close ties to the land by owning and operating a small commercial vineyard as well as overseeing a local community garden.
A native of Dodge County Nebraska, Tom was raised on a mixed livestock and seed farm near Hooper. He was an Ag Honors major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received a National Science
Foundation undergraduate research grant, was elected to Sigma Xi research honorary as an undergraduate, and graduated from UNL in June, 1970. After a brief stint in the US Army Reserve, he was a graduate student in corn breeding and genetics at Iowa State University from March, 1971 to August, 1974, when he earned his Ph.D. degree.
He started his career as a plant breeder at Hoegemeyer Hybrids, from 1974 to 1984, and served as research director and CEO from 1984 to 2004. The company grew from a small enterprise to one of the largest 25 corn seed companies in the US. They patented multiple parent seed lines and genetic systems, then sold the germplasm and breeding platform to Syngenta in 2004. Tom was a consultant and corn development scientist for Syngenta from 2005 through 2008. After retiring from Syngenta, he accepted a position as a Professor of Practice in the Agronomy and Horticulture Department at UNL, from 2009 to 2015.
Over his career, he received the 1994 Private Breeder Award from the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders and the Crop Science Society of America, served as the chair of the Nebraska Seed Trade Association and served as the chair of the Corn and Sorghum Division of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). He served on and chaired the ASTA committee on Germplasm Intellectual Property Rights from 1998 to 2006. He served two terms on the technical steering committee of the US Genetic Enhancement of Maize ( a consortium of all major seed companies, USDA and seven land grant universities) followed by six years as chairman of the steering committee.
He currently is retired (mostly) and resides in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Charles Francis is professor emeritus in the Agronomy and Horticulture Department, UNL, and Visiting Professor of Agroecology, NMBU, Norway. He is an agroecologist and futurist, formerly focused on plant breeding and agronomy, and is currently engaged in study of future farming and food systems. He has taught courses in plant breeding, agroecology, organic farming systems, and land grabs in the Global South. He plans to spend most efforts in future food system design. His professional work has been in Philippines, Colombia, Norway, and Nebraska, and he has consulted and traveled in over 50 countries and continues learning and encouraging others to think broadly about challenges facing our environment and all its inhabitants.
Rick Schneider is retired from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission where he served as the director of the Nebraska Natural Heritage Program from 1996-2019. The Program collects and manages scientific information on at-risk species and natural communities and provides that information to land use and conservation decision makers to help protect Nebraska’s biodiversity. Rick was also the co-chair of the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project from 2002-2019. The goal of the Project is to develop and implement, with multiple partners, a State Wildlife Action Plan – a blueprint for conserving the state’s native flora and fauna. During his tenure at the Commission he also served on the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Climate Change Technical Committee and lead the team addressing the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and wildlife for the UNL sector-based climate change roundtable in 2015. Prior to working for the Commission, Rick worked as an ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota and the U.S. Forest Service in Montana. He earned a B.S. degree in biology from the University of Idaho and a Ph.D. in plant ecology from Duke University.
Retired University of Nebraska educator and administrator with roles in public education and outreach at local, state, and national levels. While at the University, Ron was the recipient of several teaching and team education awards. After retiring from the University, he took up a a second career in technology sales at Dell and then Microsoft. Work experiences included: youth education, agriculture education, information technology support, technology team building, university administration, and business to business sales. Ron is currently retired serving on the boards of the Nebraska Wellbeing Initiative and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society in addition to his work with the Nebraska Climate Elders.
Education: PhD in Agricultural Economics, MS & BS in Agronomy.
Our ECL Facilitating Team
Doug Farrar, Consultant
Ken Haar, Environmental Consultant, Former NE State Senator
Thomas Hoegemeyer, Professor Emeritus, UNL
Barbara Hoppe, Educator and Social Entrepreneur
Bruce Johnson, Professor Emeritus, UNL
David Lux, Retired Pastor
Robert “Skip” Morris, Retired Educator
James O’Hanlon, Professor Emeritus, UNL
Ron Roeber, Consultant
Roger Wehrbein, Farmer/Livestock Producer, Former NE State Senator;
Don Wilhite, Professor Emeritus, UNL
Ken Winston, Attorney and Environmental Policy Advocate
David Meyer, Retired Plant Breeder and Agronomic Advisor
John H. Sowl, Retired National Park Service