I grew up on a farm in Huntington, Indiana. I attended Purdue University and have a BS in Forestry.
Year started at TNC: I started in 2004 and have been with TNC for nine years. Before that, I worked in Oregon in the Umpqua National Forest doing fire suppression. Before that I was an environmental educator and land steward for a park in Indiana.
The Black River has the oldest cypress tree stand in the world. It is always changing, yet stays the same. It is a wonderful place to work.
The Green Swamp is amazing too. It is a fire-dependent forest and depends on this force of nature to shape it. After every burn, different plants come up and express the savanna in a different way. It is full of carnivorous plants and orchids. People travel from all over the world to see this amazing place.
A typical good day for you at work: Being outside is always great. Not having to write plans is even better.
The best days in the past few years have had two different tracks. One of these is being on the Black River with dendrochronologists [tree-ring dating] from the University of Arkansas, including Dr. David Stahle. Dr. Stahle was the first one to core the Black’s cypress trees and discover that they were very old – over 1,500 years old it turns out. I took him and his colleagues to an area that they had never been to. Their enthusiasm and spirit made it an amazing day. Click here to read about Stahle's experiences on the Black River.
The other best days at work are after the burn season, when I go out and do post-burn evaluations. Sometimes I take botanists with me and it is a great way to see the benefits of putting fire on the ground. One of my favorite days recently was going to McLean Savanna in Pender County with Richard LeBlond [retired from the state’s Natural Heritage Program] and Andy Walker [NC Botanical Garden]. We went around (after the first burns done in recorded history in the areas) and found some amazing plants.
Place in the world you would most like to visit but have never been to: I would love to paddle the Amazon. And I want to go to Mexico to see the butterflies. And about thousand other places.