Our Scientists and Educators

Our curriculum was created by a dedicated group of scientists and educators who are excited to bring the Kansas River to your living rooms and classrooms.

Laura Calwell, The Kansas Riverkeeper

Laura Calwell is the Kansas Riverkeeper, a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. Laura holds a BS in Education from Kansas State University and has been a life-long advocate for clean water. Laura works with children of all ages to promote the mission of Friends of the Kaw to protect and preserve the Kansas River for future generations. In 2010 the Friends of the Kaw was honored by the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Educators (KACEE) with the "Award for Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education in the Community/Non-Profit."

Dr. Cynthia Annett, Science Advisor

Cynthia Annett, PhD holds a doctorate in zoology from U.C. Berkeley. She has been the Science Advisor for the Kansas Riverkeeper since 2003, and has worked with Friends of the Kaw for more than 15 years. Her responsibilities include researching, writing, and developing online resources for the KansasRiver.org website, and she has overseen curriculum development for the Kids 4 the Kaw, Teens 4 the Kaw, and River Science, the FOK high school initiative. Dr. Annett is currently working with Wyandotte Public School District middle school and high school students at the Saturday Math and Science Academy at the Kansas City Kansas Community College (a project of the Office of Cultural Enhancement and Diversity, KU School of Medicine), and will act as a trainer in the fall to enhance the use of computer resources at the Academy. For her work she was awarded the Kansas Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education Pre K-16 Education Award in 2011, presented by the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Educators (KACEE).

Virginia Annett, Education Advisor

Ms. Annett has been the Educational Consultant for the Kansas Riverkeeper since 2007 and has worked with Friends of the Kaw on several grants. She is responsible for evaluating and developing online resources for the Kids 4 the Kaw, Teens 4 the Kaw, and the Teachers Corner, and assessing the effectiveness of the Riverkeeper's school presentations. She is an educator with experience in administration, curriculum and assessment. Funding for her work has been provided by an EPA Environmental Education grant and a grant from the Elizabeth Schultz Environmental Fund. She works closely with the Kansas Riverkeeper, Laura Calwell, to write and implement educational initiatives for Friends of the Kaw and is in charge of aligning FOK lesson plans with the Kansas State Educational Standards. Ms. Annett has been a public school administrator and teacher in California, Missouri and Arkansas.

Temashio Anderson

Temashio Anderson is Dine and Pomo and is a certified web designer, who specializes in the use of Adobe Illustrator CS4, Photoshop CS4, InDesign CS4, and Corel Painter Sketchpad. He assisted in the design of the Kids 4 the Kaw website and is currently designing many new materials for the Riverkeeper. He graduated with a Masters from the University of Kansas and is currently a student in the School of Architecture at the University of New Mexico. Mr. Anderson has a Bachelors in Environmental Sciences and Applied Indigenous Studies from Northern Arizona University. He has been very active in community development work, focusing on community building in Tribal Nations.

Candace Barnes

Hello! My name is Candace Barnes. I am 15 years old and am attending Lawrence HIgh School. I am interested in the environment and helping to keep local streams healthy.

Candace has been responsible for developing units on stream assessment which will be added to our curriculum next spring.

Nasbah Ben

Nasbah Ben is Dine and a certified website designer, who specializes in the use of Adobe Dreamweaver CS4, and Flash CS4. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Kansas, who works to promote the use of freeware and technology to increase the use of online educational material. She assisted in the development of the Kids 4 the Kaw, and continues to manage the Friends of the Kaw website. Ms. Ben received a BS in Environmental Sciences from Northern Arizona University (NAU) where she worked as a student worker with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) in the American Indian Air Quality Training Program. While working with ITEP, she completed research on the effects of ambient air pollution on Tribal Nations. She has continued her research into her graduate studies and is currently looking for cost-alternative ways for Tribes to monitor air quality using remote sensing.

Heidi Mehl

Heidi Mehl completed a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and a Master’s degree in Global Indigenous Nations Studies at the University of Kansas. Ms. Mehl's Master’s thesis, “Water Quality Issues Facing Indigenous People in North America and Siberia,” examined ways to situate scientific information within Indigenous worldviews to help communities become informed decision makers about the quality of their water resources. She has worked as the USGS hydrologist overseeing water testing on the Potawatomi Reservation in northeastern Kansas, and conducted several grant funded projects in the Altai Republic in Siberia, co-developing databases and creating outreach programs with stakeholders in each community to address concerns about their water resources and the problems they are facing. In both communities, she performed water quality tests of local rivers, lakes and streams using both community participatory methods and state-of-the-art scientific methodology. Through her work as a hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey she gained technical knowledge about water chemistry, hydrology, and water quality issues. Ms. Mehl is familiar with the proper methods of sample collection and processing, as well as maintaining and calibrating sophisticated equipment such as the YSI 6600 multi-parameter water-quality monitoring sonde. She coauthored three reports and one fact sheet during during her 3 years with the Survey.

Diana Restrepo

Diana L. Restrepo is originally from Colombia, South America. She is a McNair Scholar finishing her bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biosciences with a minor in Sociology at the University of Kansas. She has received an Associate of Arts/Liberal Arts degree and a Biotechnology Associate of Science from Johnson County Community College (JCCC), allowing her to gain extensive training in laboratory science using state of the art equipment. 

Ms. Restrepo acquired skills as a field biologist while working with Friends of the Kaw scientists during a study looking at the relationship between nutrient cycling and land usage around Clinton Reservoir, which serves as a water source for residents of Douglas County. She used this study to create a lesson plan for FOK’s River Science curriculum. Diana is interested in looking at how agricultural and/or horticultural practices affect the water sources of disadvantaged populations, i.e. Native Americans and Hispanics, and plans to compare these practices and its effects to those in her native country as part of her Master’s thesis. 

Diana has been involved in the community using her bilingual skills and building the character of a true servant to the Hispanic community anywhere she goes. She has been a translator at the Johnson County Community College dental fair serving the Hispanic community of Kansas City. She has also been the translator for the JCCC international service learning project based in Santa Rosa, a village inside Las Pintas in Guadalajara, Mexico. Diana has been actively involved with the Traveling General Colombian Consulate and has participated in several films that attempt to increase awareness among the community in regards to issues faced by immigrants in different settings. She hopes to be able to use her cultural and language skills in future projects involving environmental education for the Spanish speaking population of the Kansas City Metro Area.