Spotlight On: Nate Keener

Program: Office of Sustainability - Director

It takes a community to achieve L&C’s sustainability goals, and a strong leader to guide the way. Director of Sustainability Nate Keener, 33, of Alton, has been instrumental in the effort since joining the college in 2011. 

This spring, the Illinois Green Economy Network honored Keener with a 2017 Sustainability Champion Award. According to IGEN, the award recognizes individuals for their commitment and dedication to incorporating sustainability into their colleges.

His overall goal is to offset or eliminate campus greenhouse gas emissions by 2058, as outlined by the college’s Climate Action Plan. Some efforts toward that end include cutting electricity consumption and generating electricity from renewable sources, coordinating and promoting a campus-wide recycling program, reducing campus fleet and commuter emissions, advocating for responsible water management, aligning campus policies with green efforts, and staying actively involved in campus and community outreach around sustainability issues. 

“I love the simple beauty of complex natural systems that point to a sustainable future,” Keener said.  “The best part about my work is feeling like it is making the world a better place, and finding common ground with unexpected partners.”

Under Keener’s leadership, the college has earned a number of accolades in the field of sustainability. Most recently, Lewis and Clark was a recipient of the 2016 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award and the American Association of Community College’s (AACC) Sustainability Education & Economic Development (SEED) Green Genome Overall Award winner. 

Current projects include adding water data to campus dashboards, which currently track electrical usage on campus; taking inventory of current greenhouse gas emissions; conducting a waste audit; purchasing a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle for campus use; and working with the college’s Restoration Ecology program to grow, plant and promote native plants and to eradicate invasive plants like honeysuckle. In April, the Office of Sustainability sponsored a week of Earth-friendly student and community events in honor of Earth Week. 

Outside of work, Keener is also a grassroots community activist and volunteer with several local organizations, including the Godfrey Cool Cities Committee and Alton Main Street.

Learn more about L&C’s Office of Sustainability at