Alumni rising: Katers named ‘most distinguished’

At the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Associate Professor John Katers is recognized as an authority on recycling, waste management, renewable energy and more. He’s also known as a personable and engaging teacher, challenging students to get past pre-conceived biases with regards to business and resources.

Soon he will be more closely recognized by students and faculty at his high school alma mater, Green Bay Southwest, as well. There in the main hallway, amidst the “Trojan blue” and near the trophies and other honors held in esteem, Katers’ photo will be on permanent display as the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

Katers is among prestigious company. ESPN sports journalist John Anderson (also host of the show of the reality TV show Wipeout) received the school’s inaugural award in 2010. In 2011, two local physicians, Dr. Paula Kluth and Dr. Susan Sipes were bestowed the honor.

The award was created to recognize and honor outstanding graduates who have excelled in their professions and have made significant contributions to their communities.

An alumnus of Southwest’s class of 1986, Katers will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Induction on Thursday, April 26 in the Southwest High School auditorium at 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., 1331 Packerland Drive. He is expected to tie his own career path into the ambition pursuits asked of Southwest students — pursue learning, demonstrate pride, create opportunities and inspire greatness — as he addresses the student body.

“I plan to use some of the same material as I will for my ‘last lecture’ (7:30 p.m. April 25 in the Alumni Rooms, University Union),” he said. “Some of those same thoughts apply: There is no free lunch. We are all connected. We need to be difference makers in our community.”

Katers holds a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from Marquette University, a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in environmental science and policy from UW-Green Bay.

Katers also co-directs UW-Green Bay’s Environmental Management and Business Institute (EMBI). In addition, he works as a project design leader for Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., assists in the development of new products made from waste materials at ENCAP, Inc., and is the current chair of the Brown County Solid Waste Board.

Katers received the Founders Award for community outreach in 2006. He was named a Wisconsin Idea Fellow by the University of Wisconsin system for outstanding public service and outreach to business and industry, and was cited as “One of 50 People You Should Know” by the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

To watch a video about Katers, and his thoughts on the honor, click here.