Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series (SLPS)

Empowering leaders for a sustainable future 

The Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series (SLPS) is a collaborative live broadcast of highly qualified and credible speakers, presenting on regional topics of sustainability and global and local environmental issues. The SLPS stimulates needed discussion and provides examples for action, planning and problem-solving for leadership in environmental sustainability. 


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Spring 2018

April 2018

Organizing for a Sustainable Future - Joe Higgs

Do you want to work with others for a sustainable environment? Do you wonder how to identify and develop new leaders for your group or sustainability organization? Do you know what it takes to change laws and policies at the local, state and national level?

Community organizing offers time-tested disciplines and practices which can help you develop the power to act together on issues you care about. Organizing is rooted in developing working relationships with a wide variety of people and groups so that you have a stronger voice together than each of you has separately. In this workshop you will learn about the Cycle of Organizing, The Iron Rule of Organizing, and ways that Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) and other local groups are organizing to shape sustainable energy policy.

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March 1, 2018

Sustainable Leadership - Daniel Lawse

How can you be a sustainable leader without sustaining your own health and energy? Personal health and sustainability of our mind, body and spirit are integral to being a sustainability leader. This presentation isn’t about recycling, energy efficiency and biking to work — though all are important. It is about sustaining yourself and personally thriving while pursuing your passion to create a more just, vibrant and sustainable world.

Biomimicry — a practice of discovering and listening to nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies — provides a framework to learn how to thrive in the midst of dynamic change and have a positive impact in our world. How does nature maintain energy in the face of constant change? How does nature adapt to conditions outside of its control? How does nature invest in strategies with the highest impact given an organism or ecosystem’s various needs? These are a few questions nature’s wisdom can answer in our quest for sustainable leadership.

This workshop will introduce biomimicry and teach a few of nature’s secrets to truly being a sustainable leader — for oneself and for the world.

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February 1, 2018

Solar Solutions for Communities - Jeff Berggren

Solar is the fastest growing renewable energy source and is becoming more cost effective. Jeff Berggren will be giving a presentation on the benefits of community and individual solar and share examples of communities throughout Nebraska that have built community solar arrays and how they have benefited from them. Jeff has been very active in supporting solar. As a member of Nebraskans for Solar, he has met with governors, testified before the Natural Resource Committee, and helped many utilities adapt their processes to accept solar more easily.

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Fall 2017

December 7, 2017

W. Cecil Steward – The Role and Need for Sustainability Planning in Small and Midsize Cities: Exploring Challenges, Solutions and the Role of Leadership and Activism.

Local governments today must lead the vanguard of sustainability and climate change policy. Small and midsize cities are uniquely positioned to explore, promote and exemplify policies supporting sustainable urban-rural interconnections and interdependencies, such as regional food systems and integrated planning, while mitigating the effects of climate change. Both nationally and globally, there has been a persistence of an unsustainable model of urbanization with such negative consequences as growing inequalities, heightened risks from the effects of climate change and related disasters, growing socio-cultural divides and more.  

W. Cecil Steward, founder, president and CEO of the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities, will address the roles and opportunities for small and midsize cities in this era of enormous flux. This program will delve into how Nebraska's towns are uniquely suited to explore, promote and exemplify policies supporting urban-rural synergies and the necessity for sound natural resource conservation management. He will talk about contemporary growth management and resilience issues with regard to:

  • Ecosystems Conflicts
  • Climate Change
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Food Security and Distribution
  • In and Out Migration

Our enormously relevant small to medium-sized cities, as well as the rural areas that are significant sources for this growth, have inherently excellent resources for critical, essential partnerships. Steward will address the importance of leadership with conservation values and how to foster that. He will also explain the importance of metrics in planning and executing sustainable development, whether the issue is creating a more vibrant city core or addressing food deserts, using Sustainometrics®.

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November 2, 2017

Benjamin Vogt – A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future

Our landscapes push aside wildlife and in turn diminish our genetically programmed love for wildness. How can we get ourselves back into balance through gardens, to speak life's language and learn from other species?

Dr. Benjamin Vogt addresses why we need a new garden ethic, and why we urgently need wildness in our daily lives. He argues that modern living – sequestered in buildings surrounded by monocultures of lawn and concrete – harm our physical and mental health. He examines psychological issues related to climate change and mass extinction as a way to understand human response to global crises.

With a focus on native species gardening, he advocates for thinking deeply and honestly about our built landscapes in order to create a compassionate activism.

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October 5, 2017

Rachel Anderson – Attracting Pollinators: Gardens for Bees and Butterflies

Pollinators are behind one in every three bites of food we eat, and their populations could use a boost. Learn about insect pollinators, how to attract them to your yard and how to sustain them year after year through conscientious gardening practices. 

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Spring 2017

April 6, 2017

Daniel Gompert – Green Practices, Policies and Attitudes in Information Technology Past and Present

Green information technology (IT) can help reduce your personal and business energy, supplies, waste and overall lifecycle costs. This presentation will discuss what green IT is, the overall lifecycle IT costs, how to better manage energy in today’s networked workplace and how to develop policies for electronic use through innovative energy reductions. Join us in discovering how green IT innovations can help improve your sustainability triple bottom line through strategic analysis of company policies focused on green IT initiatives.   

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March 2, 2017 | Live from the UNO Community Engagement Center

Michael Helgerson – Energy Efficiency in Transportation: Reducing the Impacts of Our Mobility

The way we move about our communities has huge impacts on our environment. Automotive emissions are a major contributor to greenhouse gases and to local air quality issues such as ozone. Energy efficiency provides an interesting lens through which we can explore a number of key questions about our transportation systems. What can we do to encourage more efficiency in our transportation systems? What are the impacts of trends such as higher efficiency vehicles and alternative fuels? What can we expect from future technologies such as autonomous and connected vehicles? All these factors converge to paint a picture about reshaping our investments in transportation infrastructure to support a more sustainable future for our communities.

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February 2, 2017

Greg Norris – Manufacturing and Selecting Net Positive Materials

What if products improved your quality of life and helped ecosystems thrive? That is the vision of The Living Product Challenge, a new program created to synthesize complex manufacturing data into a unified tool for responsible material creation and selection. Living Products build soil, create habitat, nourish the human spirit and provide inspiration for personal, political and economic change. Current manufacturing methods are creating immense human and environmental impact. Our modern industrial economy is built on a network of global supply chains that consume vast natural resources while generating greenhouse gases and toxic emissions that are dramatically transforming our world. Join this webinar to explore how a few visionary companies are transforming this paradigm through the Living Product Challenge.

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Fall 2016

December 1, 2016

Milo Mumgaard – The Disproportionate Impact of Climate Change on Nebraska’s Poor: The Legal Implications

Climate change impacts are and will disproportionately affect low-income Nebraskans. As more frequent high temperature extremes drive energy demands and far more intense rain and snow events increase local flooding, these Nebraskans feel it first. Not only will they be asked to shoulder higher costs for basic needs such as energy and water, further stressing their limited incomes, but they largely live in poor rental housing located far too often in flood plains with little to no insurance. Fewer hard frosts and longer growing seasons mean more insects and disease; higher temperatures mean more heat stress and health problems. All these impacts are shouldered by low-income families and the elderly without the resources to adapt. 

In 2016 Legal Aid of Nebraska conducted a “Fresh Look” at poverty-related issues across the state to help us identify and prioritize our legal work with low-income clients. We engaged community members and organizations on the legal, social, and economic challenges facing low-income Nebraskans. These challenges include lack of affordable housing, high utility costs, limited jobs and income, poor health care access, and high debt. We know that families in this position worry little about climate change; they worry about feeding their children and keeping a roof over their heads. Concern over a future colored by the impacts of climate change is real, but pales in comparison to daily challenges.

Public officials today must step in and prioritize efforts to lower the impacts of climate change on low-income Nebraskans, given their special vulnerability and lack of social, economic and political power. Low-income Nebraskans must directly benefit from all efforts to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change, including with such basic needs as energy, water, transportation and protecting their homes from floods. Whether for ethical, economic or political reasons, the needs of these Nebraskans must be a critical component of all municipal and state initiatives to address climate change, and their rights and interests must be enforced and protected.

This presentation will focus on this climate change challenge, how today’s concept of environmental justice must include this long-term commitment to low-income Nebraskans, and what Nebraskans can do to support this effort.

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November 3, 2016

Leila Nadir – Healing Industrial Amnesia: How Art Can Help Us Remediate Our Environmental Memory Disorder

Artist Leila Nadir will discuss EdibleEcologies, her new series of social sculptures that work collaboratively with local communities (human, microbial and ecological) to revive endangered food practices and remediate a cultural memory disorder that she calls “industrial amnesia.” EdibleEcologies begins with the belief that art can help people navigate the contemporary food crisis, which we see as a crisis of memory and imagination caused by the industrialization of food. The question at the heart of EdibleEcologies is: How to generate embodied memory of food practices where cultural memory loss can be near total? Rather than prescribe some dietary guidelines, which would be an empirical approach devoid of cultural engagement, Nadir’s art/theory collaborator works with social practices to bring the intense complexity of contemporary food politics and public health into the realm of psychic unsettling, affective perception and visceral, poetic visibility. EdibleEcologies works in an uncharted space between utility and imagination, between past and future, between memory and the remix. 

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October 6, 2016 | Live from Lincoln

Dr. Prabhakar Shrestha – Stories from the Field: Using Social Science to Build Sustainable and Resilient Communities

The scientific consensus demonstrates that climate change in the 21st century is essentially a human problem. Humans and their actions are causing climate change. At the same time, people are also feeling the consequences of climate change through various impacts on things they value and through the responses they are making to address climate change. The 2015 Nebraska Rural Poll showed that most Nebraskans believe the state should develop a plan for adapting to climate change to reduce its impact on different sectors like agriculture, rural communities and natural resources. A Wilhite et al (2014) report on “Understanding and Assessing Climate Change Implications for Nebraska” concludes that “there are actions that need to be implemented to avoid or reduce the deleterious effects of climate change for Nebraska.”

There also is a growing call for actions or plans to better prepare for an uncertain future. People are confused about what to do and how they can help. Where do we start? What are these actions? A lot of concerned citizens feel overwhelmed and confused on what actions to take to be better stewards of the planet. How do we lower our impact on the planet while also adapting to the changing climate?

Shrestha's presentations will include some of these actionable items based on his expertise as a social science researcher, teacher and practitioner. 

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Spring 2016

April 7, 2016 | Live from UNL - Environmental Studies Program

Dave Gosselin – Water: Connecting Everything to Everything Else

Water is the key to improving global health, ensuring social welfare and social stability and promoting economic development and environmental sustainability. Water is essential to life, yet on a worldwide scale, more than one billion people lack access to an adequate water supply both from a quantity and quality standpoint; more than twice as many lack basic sanitation. In Nebraska, fresh water has been critical to our heritage. This talk will examine water from a variety of contexts emphasizing the importance of connections to everything we do. Dr. Dave Gosselin of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will touch on many aspects of what it means to be water literate – Do you know your water footprint? How does the ocean impact our water supply? How is human demand impacting our water systems? What are the connections between energy, water, health and food supply?

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March 3, 2016 | Live from across Nebraska

Personal and Community Health: Nebraska Communities Taking Action for Increased Walking and Biking

Live presentation facilitator: Jeremy Grandstaff, Nebraska Walkable Communities project architect for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health

Speakers: Amy Houser, Central District Health Department 

Andy Wessel, Douglas County Health Department 

Becky Sullivan, Mary Lanning Healthcare 

Jessica Davies, Panhandle Public Health District

Public health. Physical and mental wellbeing. Recreational activities. Economic development and regional vitality. Access to educational facilities. Equitable planning and development. Modeling environmental stewardship and healthy living. Walkable and bikeable communities present a variety of solutions and provide a wide range of benefits. With a recent call to action from the U.S. Surgeon General and rising health issues across the nation, both urban and rural Nebraska communities and local health departments are looking for successful strategies to increase walking and biking for overall community health. Hear from and interact live with local Nebraska public health leaders in Grand Island, Hastings, Omaha and Sidney as they tell their stories about a transformative process that they have used to engage local communities in taking action for increased walking and biking. From expanding trail signage and bike path development to walking clubs and worksite strategies, these stories are for modeling and inspiration. Local experts will share some best practices and case studies for anyone interested in increased walking and biking for personal, community or environmental health.  #SLPSThursday   #WalkNE

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February 5, 2016 | Live from UNO

Greg Fripp – Growing Food, Minds and Community Through Aquaponics 

The impact of aquaponics on communities through educational programming will be detailed by Greg Fripp, founder and executive director of Whispering Roots, at the February Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series. The Whispering Roots Aquaponics Program uses agriculture to teach STEM principles and introduce nutrition education to students in grades K-12 and to members of the community. Students are engaged in the entire system, from construction and assembly through the crop growing process. By having an active role in every aspect of the project, students learn complex academic issues while taking responsibility for all food production. The students conduct scientific investigations, learn horticulture techniques, apply classroom lessons to "real world" situations and literally enjoy the fruits of their labor. Members of the community learn how to grow healthy food while incorporating next generation techniques into sustainable traditional growing methods. This approach focuses on growing food, minds and communities.

Aquaponics is a means of producing food that combines the farming of aquatic animals and the science of hydroponics in a symbiotic environment. This system has potential to bring nutritional resources to communities that are food insecure, both urban and rural. Heralded for its efficiency — significantly less water is used than in traditional farming and the system is self-supporting — aquaponics not only puts food on the table, but it also provides an unrivaled learning environment for the students and the community.

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Fall 2015

December 3, 2015 | Live from Metropolitan Community College

Mark Dekraai and Carrie Hakenkamp – Results of Nebraska's Recycling Study

Recent findings of a statewide recycling study will be shared by Mark DeKraai, senior research director at the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center. The study highlights regional gaps in recycling access across Nebraska, compares Nebraska's recycling and diversion rates to surrounding states, and provides recommendations to improve recycling and waste diversion in Nebraska. Carrie Hakenkamp with WasteCap Nebraska will discuss ways in which diversion can be improved using zero waste concepts and will discuss the economic viability of recycling. 

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November 5, 2015 | Live from Metropolitan Community College

William R. Blackburn – Sustainability: A Business Imperative 

William Blackburn is a global sustainability expert with hands-on experience building sustainability programs within major companies. He will discuss the recent consensus on the scope and practical meaning of sustainability that has emerged from large, global multi-stakeholder forums and from corporate usage – it is considerably more than just recycling, climate change and energy conservation.  He will also share his proven approach for infusing sustainability into the essence of company operations – a process he calls a “sustainability operating system” (SOS). The SOS will include tips on selecting and marketing “green products.”

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October 1, 2015 | Live from Seattle, Washington

Kathleen Smith and Brad Liljequist – Living Buildings: Socially Just, Culturally Rich and Ecologically Restorative

The Living Building Challenge is the built environment's most rigorous performance standard. It calls for the creation of building projects that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature's architecture. To be certified under the challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements, including net positive energy, waste and water, over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. In this presentation, participants will gain a basic understanding of the Living Building Challenge – a philosophy, advocacy tool and certification program that addresses development of the built environment at all scales. This presentation is for anyone engaged with the built environment as a designer, builder, owner, developer, manager or occupant … so it is for everyone. It will challenge all of us to think deeply about place and how we can work together to create communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

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Spring 2015

June 4, 2015 | Live from Omaha

Cecil Steward – Conservation and the Quest for Quality Nebraska Places

What do construction waste, global population migration, food processing and distribution, the Ogallala Aquifer, Omaha and O’Neill, climate change and economic development have to do with one another? A new video by the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities shows how interconnected and interdependent all of these factors are and how addressing the nexus of global and local changes and pressures on our critical resources will ensure a strong and healthy future for our citizens. W. Cecil Steward, founder and president of the Joslyn Institute, will show an excerpt from the video and talk about how these imperatives might be addressed.

The video, “Nebraska Nexus: Resources, Conservation, Development and Change,” explores five critical resources — food, water, energy, land and materials and how we must consider both conservation and development of those resources to respond effectively to global pressures and to ensure they remain sustainable for future generations and the high standard of living we now enjoy. The culmination of four years of highly interactive workshops and conferences with civic leaders, ranchers, farmers, elected and appointed officials, students and concerned citizens across Nebraska, the video was produced with the support of Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Environmental Trust with the administrative support of Nebraska Academy of Sciences.

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May 7, 2015 | Live from MCC

Daniel Lawse and Lily Livingston - Learn to Thrive: Lessons from Nature

What would our world look like if we rediscovered the lessons of nature? What if the places we live and work engaged our senses in a healthy way and celebrated culture with nature, encouraging human delight? How can a leaf inspire a solar cell? Or organizations learn from a tree or a coral reef? Biomimicry is an innovation method that seeks new ways of living sustainably — from new products and processes to policies — by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. Janine Benyus, the founder of written works on biomimicry, says it “introduces an era based not on what we can extract from organisms and their ecosystems, but on what we can learn from them.” Instead of technology working separately from nature, imagine a world where technology functions in relationship with nature. Biophilic design articulates the relationships between nature, human biology and the design of the built environment so we experience the natural environment more in our daily world. Academics, researchers and others have codified valuable design research for improving health and wellbeing in our built environment into patterns of biophilic design, patterns ‘that nurture the innate human attraction to natural systems and processes’ (Janine Benyus). Come learn how to bring nature back into our buildings, neighborhoods and lives.

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April 2, 2015 | Live from MCC

William Powers – Sustainable Farming and Foods in Nebraska

From water conservation to knowing where your food comes from, principles of sustainability are becoming more and more of the narrative in our daily lives. Sustainable agriculture and sustainable foods grow hand-in-hand and are at the forefront of the sustainability movement. This talk will look at sustainable agriculture and foods in Nebraska over the last 40 years, what programs and progress has been made, what is happening today and how you can be a part of changing the landscape of food and farming in Nebraska and the Midwest.

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March 5, 2015

Adam Hammes – Sustainability Advocacy: Leverage Your Emotions, Avoid Burnout, and Influence for Good

Adam will share how his experience of life, work and family shifted profoundly as he learned to connect with people less-passionate about environmental sustainability and communicate his beliefs in ways that moved others to action. Learn how you can do the same by understanding emotional intelligence and psychology. Adam’s story is profoundly unique, spanning his rural, conservative upbringing to time spent as an environmental educator, a community organizer and nonprofit founder, an award-winning corporate sustainability professional, an adjunct university business professor, a successful sustainability consultant and director of a state sustainable business association. Join us to learn about emotional stages and myths of advocacy, stages of influence and other topics that can help you be a sustainability leader.

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February 5, 2015 | Live from Alaska

Jim Powell – The Alaska Bellwether: Perception, Response and Adaptation in a Time of Climate Change

Global climate change is causing rapid ecosystem change in Alaska. How local communities respond to this challenge now and in the future will have great bearing on whether these communities can continue to thrive in an era of climate change. Join us for a presentation by Alaska expert Jim Powell as he unpacks the tangle of on-the-ground ecosystem conditions, local perceptions of the issue, and climate change mitigation strategies and adaptation plans being developed. Together we will consider the implications of a changing planet and the significance of the Alaska experience as related to our unique conditions in Nebraska.

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Fall 2014

December 4, 2014 | Live from Greensburg, Kansas

Bob Dixson – Sustainable Rebuilding Post-Disaster: The story of Greensburg, Kansas

To conclude the Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series for this calendar year, we are excited to welcome Mayor Bob Dixson of Greensburg, Kan., who will talk about the rebuilding of his town after a tornado leveled the community in 2007. From sustainable buildings to municipal infrastructure, the City of Greensburg considered costs, the environment and the impact on its residents as they rebuilt strategically for the future. Dixson will discuss Greensburg’s story, renewable energy, the heritage of sustainability in the Heartland, and how he believes we can make the world a better place for future generations. We hope you join us on our journey to learn more about environmental sustainability.

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November, 6 2014 | Live from the United Kingdom

Julia Hailes – Green Matters: How You Can Make a Difference

Presenting live from the United Kingdom, we are excited to welcome Julia Hailes as our November Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series speaker. She has authored and co-authored nine books, including the best-selling, “The Green Consumer Guide.” As a writer, consultant, green entrepreneur and speaker, Julia will bring unique content and learning to our monthly series. From information on greening your home to sustainable food consumption to electronic waste, Julia will share stories of her travels and research. Hear what sparked her interest in environmental sustainability and inspired her career in environmental communications. We hope you join us to learn from Julia, in our journey in building and educating for a sustainable future!

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October 2, 2014 | Live from MCC

Panel by Bill Moore, Jim Stark and Dr. Scott Williams; moderated by Chris Swanson – Renewable and Clean Fuel Technologies: The Future of Transportation Today

Fueled transportation is an everyday need for most Americans. There are exciting technologies that allow us to get around without the fossil fuels that destroy our air quality and climate. Three leading experts will present diverse options for fueling and powering personal and commercial vehicles, and answer your questions – about technology, what currently exists and what the future will hold. The speakers will cover biofuels, including biodiesel, corn ethanol and advanced biofuels from next-generation sources such as cellulosic biomass and algae. They will also cover electric vehicles and discuss which technologies and fuels currently offer the best potential for a sustainable future. Our presentation panel will describe the benefits and limitations of each, and how these technologies are shaping the future of transportation. We hope you join us to learn and grow in our understanding of sustainable transportation.

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September 4, 2014 | Live from CCC-Grand Island 

Dan McGuire – Wind and Renewable Energy: Nebraska's Growth Opportunity

We are excited to welcome Dan McGuire, co-chair of the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference, to launch our Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series for the 2014-15 year. He will present on all topics "wind." With a Nebraska farm background and a University of Nebraska-Lincoln degree in journalism, he has spent his career leading agricultural organizations and developing and advocating for state and national renewable energy policy and programs for the benefit of rural America. As a Nebraska leader in developing wind energy programs, outreach and public education projects, Dan will discuss his experience and present information on a variety of wind energy topics. Topics will range from the economic impacts and environmental benefits of wind energy to educational programs and career development opportunities from the K-12 to college level. He will also focus on Nebraska's wind energy growth potential. Please join us in welcoming Dan McGuire, and come learn with us about this important topic for Nebraska.

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