James received a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Natural Resources and a Certificate in Environmental Planning from Rutgers University. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, James was hired as a biological intern at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge where he learned invaluable flora and fauna surveying techniques and discovered his passion for bat conservation and native plant propagation. Before joining the Restore Native Plants Team, James served as an AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador leading water monitoring programs in Northern New Jersey and completed professional development programs including Project WILD, Project WET and a paraprofessional stormwater management workshop.
James was introduced to Dr. Benjamin Burton at an environmental commission meeting in West Milford, NJ. After reading the book “Bringing Nature Home” by Douglas Tallamy, James gained a deeper understanding for the need to reintroduce native plants not only to Wildlife Refuges and State Parks, but also to the developed landscape. To date, James has assisted with planting over 70,947 native plants to restore wildlife habitat. With help from Matt Simonelli, James established an invasive management program with a team which has recovered over 65 acres from invasive plant infestation.
With James’ leadership, Restore Native Plants has made amazing contributions to protecting natural resources. To date, James and the team have grown over 30+ species of native plants including the 100% American Chestnut. The Milkweed for Monarchs initiative has been co-lead having raised and released 597+ butterflies and planting 3,000+ milkweed plants. In 2017, James organized a volunteer tree planting event with the first successfully planting 150 native oak trees.
In December 2015, James was awarded the Bergen County Audubon Society Harold Feinberg Conservation Award. This award is presented annually to individuals who demonstrate a commitment to conservation and bettering the environment for both wildlife and the local community. Motivated to increase his skillset, in 2017, James became a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture and received his private pesticide license through the NJDEP. James is currently pursuing becoming a New Jersey Board Certified Tree Expert.