Shari L. Wilson
President/CEO of Project Central
Shari L. Wilson is an ecologist and consultant with expertise in project management, community development, strategic planning, facilitation, and conference and meeting planning. She founded Project Central, LLC to provide services primarily in the areas of education, environment, healthy communities, and the arts. Since then, she has worked on projects including writing a new high school STEM career education course for the Kansas State Department of Education; facilitating an outdoor classroom and plans for a nature trail at a local middle school with the Rosedale Development Association; presentations on Green Schools and U.S. environmental policy for U.S. Embassies in Georgia, Armenia, and Germany; incorporating recycling and composting programs in five Kansas City-area schools; and writing lesson plans incorporating art, culture, and STEM for a group of schools in Kenya.
For 14 years Shari worked for an environmental education non-profit organization as Statewide Partnerships and Planning Director. In that position, she led strategic planning efforts, the annual Kansas Environmental Education Conference and Kansas Green Schools Conference, and numerous grant projects. Shari led the process to develop the Kansas Green Schools Program, which has nearly 500 participating schools. She also designed the Kansas Schools Gardens Initiative and was part of the team negotiating a Memorandum of Agreement with Project Learning Tree’s Green Schools!, and Eco-Schools to streamline the Green Schools recognition process, enabling schools to apply one time and receive recognition from all three programs. Shari has led several projects to correlate environmental education materials to Kansas and national core curriculum standards.
Shari has also been a leader in the Kansans for Children in Nature movement, garnering an endorsement from Kansas Governor Sam Brownback for the statewide plan to increase the amount of time kids spend outside learning and playing. She also facilitated the development of the 2010 Environmental Literacy Plan for Kansas. Shari’s work on these initiatives, as well as numerous others, involved turning challenges into opportunities, building networks, connecting people with common interests and goals, and extensive community engagement processes. Her work has also involved fundraising and making presentations to elected officials, agency representatives, and business leaders.
Shari received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Administrator Award for Environmental Excellence in 2005. In 2006, she received a fellowship with the European Union Visitors Program, and spent a week in Belgium studying climate change policy and natural parks. Shari was invited to speak at the International Wetlands Symposium in Matanzas, Cuba, in 2007, and was the Kansas Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Educator of the Year in 2009. Shari received the President’s Award from the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education in 2011, and co-presented a session on how to make communities more “green” at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, in 2012.
Shari’s previous work experience also includes four years at an engineering firm and 2 years staffing a U.S. Congressman. She worked for a political party in Kansas helping candidates with messaging, voter registration, voter turnout, fundraising, and campaign strategy. Shari led a volunteer task force from 2001-2004 to clean up a dump site in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, and redevelop the property into a historic park commemorating the Lewis and Clark Expedition. She also owns several real estate properties with her husband, retired state senator Chris Steineger, including an 1898 school building that was renovated into apartments for senior citizens.
Shari grew up in Claflin, Kansas, and spent many summers with her grandparents on their Jewell County farm. Her love for the environment comes from those years of playing outside, accompanying her grandfather on his farm activities and learning to garden from her grandmother. She holds a B.A. in history and philosophy from Washburn University of Topeka, and an M.A. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Kansas. She serves on the boards of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, Unicorn Theatre, Owen/Cox Dance Group, and Kansas City River Trails. Areas of interest include traveling (50 countries and counting), hiking, gardening, cooking, and reading. Shari lives in Kansas City, Kansas, with her husband and the loudest-meowing cat ever, Bailey.