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Who We Are

Staff & Board

Staff of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, and of the Community Forestry & Sustainable Landscapes program of the Nebraska Forest Service. Arboretum office is 402-472-2971 or

Hanna Pinneo, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Executive Director
NSA programming: administration, funding, strategic planning, 402-472-2945, 102K Keim Hall

Sarah Buckley, Sustainable Landscape Specialist
NSA programming: grants, landscape design, education, 402-472-7923, 102 Keim

Toby Burnham, Member & Affiliate Coordinator
NSA programming: affiliate sites, membership marketing and events, 402-472-2971, 102G Keim

Michelle DeRusha, Communications and Events Coordinator
Publications, e-news, advertising, news releases, social media, events
mderusha2@unl.edu402-472-8478, 102H Keim

Justin Evertson, Green Infrastructure Coordinator
NSA programming: grants, landscape design, trees, affiliate sites, education, 402-472-6604, 203G Forestry Hall

Bob Henrickson, Horticulture Program Coordinator
NSA programming: plant propagation and sales, prairie, education, 402-472-7855, 102H Keim

Graham Herbst, Nebraska Forest Service Community Forester Specialist
Omaha/Eastern Nebraska Community Forestry, 402-444-7875, 8015 W Center Rd, Omaha, 68124

Christina Hoyt, Community Landscape and Forest Health Bureau Chief, 402-472-5049, Forestry Hall

Brad Kindler, Sustainable Landscape Specialist
NSA programming: grants, landscape design, education, 203C Forestry Hall 

Chrissy Land, Community Forester Specialist for western Nebraska, 308-633-1173, 100547 Airport Road, Scottsbluff, NE 69361

Kendall Weyers, Sustainable Communities Coordinator, 402-472-6693, 2nd floor Forestry Hall

Board Members

Julie Zahn, President, Syracuse

Carol Thomas, Treasurer, Syracuse

Leah Meyer, Secretary, Lincoln

Bob Grimit, Lincoln

Jeff Kennedy, Gothenburg

Katja Peppe, Los Angeles

Edward Pohren, Ashland

Steve Rasmussen, Plainview

Laurie Zitterkopf, Scottsbluff

Dr. Richard Bischoff, Ex Officio, IANR

John Erixson, Ex Officio, Nebraska Forest Service

Board Member Bios

Julie Zahn, President
Julie was born and raised in Lincoln and now lives in Syracuse, where she enjoys being outdoors and immersed in the natural world. She has a degree in early child education, owned a small business for 13 years, was a master gardener for 9 years and a longtime community volunteer. She and her husband, David, have four grown children.

Carol Thomas, Treasurer
Carol has 30+ years of experience as an accountant, tax preparer and IRS Enrolled Agent.  She lives in Syracuse and enjoys spending time among the flowers in her garden.

Leah Meyer, Secretary
Leah is a lifelong Nebraskan and has great interest in how urban and rural communities and landowners can incorporate native and adapted plants for the benefit and beautification of our state. She is an independent contractor working in the sustainability and resource management field. You can find her at every Spring Affair, adding to her collection of thermoposis, hyssop and asters.

Bob Grimit
Retired Lincoln attorney Bob Grimit likes to quote Thomas Jefferson, who once stated, “But though an old man, I am but a young gardener.” Bob's “piece of nature” is a one-acre lot on which he says the only plants for consumption are Swiss chard and rhubarb. Born and raised in Omaha, Bob graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Law. He and his wife have two grown children and three grandchildren. Since retirement, “Every day is gardening,” he says.

Jeff Kennedy
A native Nebraskan and certified arborist, Jeff has owned a landscaping business in Gothenburg since 1999, to which he added a retail nursery in 2007. He’s interested in all things growing and enjoys helping others with their landscapes.

Katja Peppe
Katja is a gardener from Lincoln, originally from northern Illinois. She received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from UNL, and her favorite plants are liatris and snow flurry aster.

Edward Pohren
Ed was a founding member of the Omaha law firm he practiced in for over forty years, primarily advocating for clients involved in civil litigation. In addition to raising their four children, Ed and his wife, Elaine, immersed themselves in various volunteer activities involving church, school and sports teams. Now living in Ashland, they enjoy traveling, playing pickleball and tending to the prairie plantings in their yard.

Steve Rasmussen
Steve is a 40-year NSA member and a retired Nebraska Forest Service District Forester who worked with communities, landowners and arboretum sites in northeast Nebraska. He is also the former curator of the Northeast Arboretum at the UNL Haskel Ag Lab. Steve resides in Plainview, where he enjoys tree planting, hunting, fishing, sawmilling, woodworking, camping and traveling to enjoy the great outdoors.

Laurie Zitterkopf
Laurie grew up on a dairy farm in Sauk Rapids, MN, and now lives in Scottsbluff, where she gives back to her community through her involvement with the Master Gardener Program (since 2007) and the Nebraska Master Naturalist Program (since 2014). She spent 20+ years working in restaurant management, followed by several years in bookkeeping. She believes in planting for our environment and is an advocate for planting native or near-native in urban settings.

Board Positions Open 

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is currently seeking new board members to fill open positions. For more information, click the button below. 

Executive Board Member Descriptions

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Board has four officer positions: President, President-elect, Secretary and Treasurer.

Board President and President-elect

The Board President fulfills a two-year term and serves as the head of the Governance Committee throughout the two year-term. The President-elect serves through the course of the President’s second term and attends all Governance meetings. The position of President-elect shall  serve a one (1) year term in the capacity of President-elect before assuming the  position of President for a two (2) year term. The position of President-elect shall be elected on odd years. 

Essential Skills and Expectations 

  • Strategic planning
  • Meeting management 
  • Commitment to the organization’s mission and familiarity with the structure and history of NSA 
  • Cultivate deep knowledge of the organization’s records and governing documents.  
  • Comfortable using or learning email, Zoom meeting technology, Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel 

Essential Functions 

  • Facilitate regular and ad hoc board meetings.
  • Create a purposeful agenda in collaboration with the Executive Director. 
  • Lead an engaging meeting, seeking out contributions from each board member and managing time effectively. 
  • Call for votes and confirm direction of votes for meeting minutes.
  • Prepare and deliver the President's and Governance Committee report.
  • Schedule and facilitate quarterly governance meetings. 
  • Develop meeting agendas. Meetings focus on board education, recruitment and internal policies. 
  • Upload meeting agenda and meeting minutes into SharePoint files. 

Board leadership  

  • The President and President-elect are points of contact for board member issues and questions.  

Recruitment and coaching 

  • Work with committee heads on developing and elevating board members without a leadership role into leadership positions.  
  • Promote the board at organization events (e.g. plant sales, lecture series, awards). 
  • Facilitate annual board retreat. 
  • Outline goals for annual retreat; work collaboratively with committee heads on establishing annual goals.  
  • Coordinate planning, develop exercises and establish a date and location. 

Approval of organization operating agreements 

  • Approve the Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 
  • Review and grant permission to begin annual audit.
  • Review and approve all contracts of $1,000 or above or grant approving permission. 
  • Research and provide education opportunities to board members.

Review and conduct board orientation with the President-elect and Secretary.

Maintain regular communication with the Executive Director. 

Board Secretary

The Board Secretary fulfills a two-year term and is elected on even years. Board members are volunteers, serving two three-year terms with an option to extend a final year.  

Essential Skills and Expectations 

  • Structural and detailed, highly organized.
  • Familiarity with the nonprofit’s structure and strategic mission 
  • Cultivate deep knowledge of the organization’s records and governing documents.  
  • Comfortable using or learning email, Zoom meeting technology, Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Word  

Essential Functions   

  • Record and distribute board meeting minutes. 
  • Key information includes: board actions, rationale, elections of new officers, committee report, officer reports. 
  • Promptly proofread, gain board chair approval and distribute to invitees.  

Maintain accurate records. 

  • The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum maintains documents over Microsoft SharePoint.  
  • Ensure all critical documents are organized, safely stored and readily accessible.  
  • Schedule quarterly board meetings and ad hoc meetings as required.  
  • Distribute agenda created by Board President and Executive Director. 
  • Ensure board member information is up-to-date.
  • Update contact information and terms on an annual basis. 
  • Note preferred contact methods.
  • Hold members accountable. 
  • Notate attendance in quarterly board meetings and work with board leadership to address attendance issues.  

Support new board member orientation.

Board Treasurer 

The Treasurer serves a two-year term, elected on the off-year of the Secretary’s term. The Treasurer is the head of the Finance Committee.  

Essential Skills and Expectations 

  • Must have a background in business or non-profit accounting. 
  • Familiarity with the nonprofit’s structure and strategic mission 
  • Cultivate deep knowledge of the organization’s records and governing documents.  
  • Comfortable using or learning email, Zoom meeting technology, Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Word  

Essential Functions 

  • Schedule and facilitate quarterly/as needed Finance Committee Meetings.  
  • Develop and distribute meeting agendas.   
  • Upload meeting agenda and meeting minutes into SharePoint files.  
  • Prepare and deliver Finance Committee reports for quarterly board meetings.   
  • Help develop and review annual budget.  
  • Be prepared to answer questions and make recommendations to the board about the budget. 
  • Review annual audit and tax forms.  
  • Review and approve request to release funds for non-budgeted projects.  
  • Serve as a point of contact for questions related to organization finances.   
  • Coordinate with the Development Committee to ensure successful fundraising activities. 
  • Keep a calendar of important dates including filing deadlines. 
  • Review procedures, internal controls and financial reporting annually.  
  • Make recommendations if needed to Director.
  • Help develop systems to ensure organization's solvency.
  • Provide education to the board on understanding financial statements. 
  • Do succession planning for this position. 
  • Nominate qualified new board members.  
  • Mentor finance committee members toward leadership positions.