John Graham: Land Steward

John plants native species around the landscape at his home – not a not a big challenge since Delaware has a variety of attractive plants that also benefit wildlife. For lawn areas, he uses a rechargeable battery-powered mower. It’s quiet, lightweight and has none of the emission problems of traditional gas-powered equipment


John Graham
Land Steward

What led to an interest in conservation?

John Graham:

It began when I noticed the condition of many of our public lands, where vast portions of forests and swamplands had become dominated by non-native plants. It made me sad to think of the native wildlife these invasive species had replaced. My concern led to a new focus for me as I returned to school and changed careers after 30 years working in the landscape construction business.

How did your career path lead to working The Nature Conservancy?

John Graham:

During my time working at the Delaware Nature Society I connected with a lot of restoration practitioners and ecologists, and developed my own theories, practices and methods. Eventually that mix of networking and hands-on experience led to the job I now enjoy at the Conservancy.

What's the most important project on which you're working?

John Graham:

Actually there are two. I’ve been working on intensive restoration across many acres of forest, farmland and marsh at the Milford Neck Preserve. I’ve also been dedicating a lot of time preparing to open a new public trail at the Ponders Tract, the newest section of the Pemberton Forest Preserve.

What's on the horizon in the next couple of years?

John Graham:

I plan to continue working with our partners to advance restoration at Milford Neck. I look forward to seeing how the public interacts with the trail system at Ponders. I also hope to learn new skills through some interesting projects that are in the works.

John graduated cum laude with a BS in Entomology and Wildlife Conservation from the University of Delaware in 1998 as a returning adult student. During this time and for a year following graduation John managed the Middle Run Reforestation Program for the Delaware Nature Society. It was there where he developed many of the methods now used at the Conservancy’s restoration projects in Delaware.


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