Meet our conference speakers

Keynote Speaker

  • Matt Rota, Senior Policy Director, Gulf Restoration Network

Mr. Rota is the Senior Policy Director for the Gulf Restoration Network. Through his work with GRN, he advocates for healthy waters throughout the Gulf of Mexico region. He also works with Mississippi River Basin organizations to promote policies that will reduce the Dead Zone-causing pollution flowing to the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Rota currently focuses on water pollution issues in Louisiana, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico, working to ensure adequate policies regarding the BP oil drilling disaster, wetlands, water quality, and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution are adopted and implemented to protect and restore waters of the Gulf of Mexico region. He is co-Chair of the Nutrients Workgroup for the Mississippi River Collaborative and has given numerous presentations on water pollution issues at professional and technical conferences throughout the country. He earned his B.S. in Ecology, Evolutionary, and Organismal Biology from Tulane University and his Masters of Earth and Environmental Resources Management from the University of South Carolina.


Luncheon Speaker

  • Dean Klinkenberg, Mississippi Valley Traveler, Journalist

Dean Klinkenberg has traveled 120,000 miles up and down the Great River Road writing extensively about the people and places along the Mississippi River. Klinkenberg is a contributing editor for Big River Magazine and has written articles for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and Wisconsin Trails magazine. He has published three books and written dozens of blogs about the Mississippi River and has taken thousands of photos of the river during his travels. He currently is working on a new book that combines songs about the Mississippi River with short essays to explore the many different ways people relate to the river. Klinkenberg also has published several travel guides. For more information visit his website: mississippivalleytraveler.com.


Our Panel Speakers

  • Mission Possible: How Targeted Farm-Based Wetlands can Yield a Cleaner Watershed – Jill Kostel, The Wetlands Initiative
  • The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Project: Restoring Functional Floodplain for Nature & People – Douglas Blodgett, The Nature Conservancy
  • Framework in the Iowa Cedar Watershed – Jason T. Smith, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Brad Walker, Missouri Coalition for the Environment
  • Bethany Stich, PhD., UNO Transportation Institute
  • Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director, America’s Central Port
  • Creating the Longest Multi-Use Trail on the Planet – Greg Maxted, Harahan Bridge Project
  • Marketing the River for Tourism – Robin Shadler, Celebration River Cruises
  • Paddle Pilgrim: An Adventure of Learning and Spirit, Kayaking the Mississippi River – Dr. David Ellingson, Trinity Lutheran College
  • Establishing Watershed Programs to Address Water Quality Problems in the Mississippi River Basin – Ryan Stockwell, National Wildlife Federation
  • Reducing Phosphorus Pollution in the Yahara Watershed – Rachel Fossum, Yahara Pride Farms
  • How Cover Crops Improve the Health of My Farm – Woody Woodruff, Illinois Stewardship Alliance
  • Non-Structural and Small-Scales Solutions for Flood Risk Management and Navigation – Christine Favilla, Sierra Club
  • The Multiple Benefits of Natural and Nonstructural Solutions – Staci Williams, American Rivers
  • The Cheshire Cat was Right – Mark Gorman, Northeast-Midwest Institute
  • Leveraging Natural Assets for Community Sustainability – Rolf Thompson, National Eagle Center
  • Swimming Upstream - Why are River Issues a Tough Sell? – Reggie McLeod, Editor and Publisher, Big River Magazine
  • Bald Eagle Lead Exposure in the Upper Midwest – Ed Britton, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Battling the Dead Zone from 1,300 Miles Away – Denny Caneff, River Alliance of Wisconsin
  • An Opportunity to Conduct Floodplain Science at the Confluence of the Maquoketa and Mississippi Rivers – Ken Lubinski, U.S. Geological Survey
  • America’s Watershed Initiative: Making the Grade – Jordy Jordahl, The Nature Conservancy
  • Providing the Catalyst: Accelerating Your Project through Money, Training, Partnerships and Information – Jeff Hastings, Driftless Area Restoration Effort
  • Room for the River: Opportunities along the Mississippi River Corridor – Jessica Ludy, ARCADIS U.S.
  • Twenty Years of Transformation: Saint Paul on the Mississippi – Patrick Seeb, Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation