SBJ photo by McKenzie Robinson

2020 Most Influential Women: Bobbilynne Koepke

Environmental Works Inc.

Posted online

Bobbilynne Koepke learned early in her career the value of strong leadership and fostering a healthy work environment.

Prior to joining Environmental Works Inc. in 2009, Koepke worked in a male-dominated company and describes the experience as challenging.

She credits EWI founder Robin Melton for setting the tone before she died in a 2012 accident.

“She was an amazing role model who worked hard, treated her people like family and still liked to have fun. I miss her a lot,” Koepke says.

Koepke, who was initially hired as an environmental scientist, now serves as principal geologist and as the company’s internal training coordinator. She supervises five scientists and has helped the company grow from 60 employees in two offices to 250 in nine offices across the Midwest.

“EWI has continued to have an amazing corporate structure that promotes responsibility, informality, candor, transparency and meritocracy.

It creates this extremely healthy work environment where there’s not a lot of red tape or imposed hierarchy,” she says.

She credits that philosophy for driving the company’s growth and fosters its continuation by serving on the company’s Culture Team and organizing events and presentations around those core principles.

“They’re not just words on a poster. I just try to live the tenets of our culture and lead by example,” Koepke says.

She says that means putting in the hours, being available to others when they need guidance, getting dirty in the field when necessary and maintaining good communication.

Koepke also realizes developing a successful career means taking stock of weaknesses.

“I’ve learned that I’m not great at traditional business development –
cold calls, sales, mixer events, etc. … I’m just too introverted,” she says. “But surprisingly, I really enjoy giving presentations and training others, sharing my expertise on a subject I know well or giving case studies.”

Over the last several years, Koepke has presented at the Missouri Waste Control Coalition Conference, Missouri American Planning Association Conference and the Environmental Conference.

Most recently, Koepke expanded her professional horizons to serving as an adjunct instructor, teaching a field geology course at Missouri State University. When the COVID-19 pandemic derailed a field-intensive course that was set to take place in New Mexico, Koepke worked with a geology professor to create a new plan that could be conducted here.

“It was important to me to help make sure this group of students were able to graduate with good marketable skills for our future workforce,” she says.

Koepke hopes to continue the collaboration with MSU and find grants to develop an institute through which industry, academia and regulatory professionals can work together to solve environmental issues.

In her off time, Koepke volunteers at her church’s food pantry, judges school science fairs and donates blood, which she has done regularly since discovering she qualifies to be a donor for infants.