Growing up in West Michigan, Justin always enjoyed exploring the area's forests, prairies, and lakeshore. He joined the Land Conservancy in 2014. His position as Stewardship Director allows him to fulfill his strong commitment to protecting and caring for the rich diversity of West Michigan's natural landscapes.
Justin's background includes working as a botanist, restoration ecologist, and environmental educator in the Midwest and in East Africa. Justin earned a Bachelor's degree in Biology from Calvin College and a Master's degree in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan. When not at work, you'll find him enjoying outdoor activities, fishing, gardening, or playing music.
Born and raised in Vienna, Austria, Ruth moved to the U.S. to attend college and has worked for environmental nonprofits and state agencies for 22 years. Ruth holds an MS degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University and has worked for The Nature Conservancy’s West Virginia and Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota Chapters, The Conservation Fund in Michigan, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A self-proclaimed "prairie nerd," Ruth's thesis and much of her work has been focused on prairies. She has extensive experience in land protection and grant management.
During her chilhood, Ruth and her family would hike in the Alps. On summer vacations to the U.S., they hiked in national parks. Ruth suspects it was these memorable trips that piqued her interest in ecology and conservation. In her free time, she likes to hike, travel, take photos, garden, play violin, and bake sourdough bread.
Jason considers himself a self-taught naturalist with a love for the outdoors. As a kid in elementary school, he would get detention for going down to the creek. Now he gets paid to do it.
Jason previously held a 23-year printing career. He left printing to pursue work restoring habitats. He began working with the Land Conservancy on a seasonal basis in 2018 and started year-round in 2022. A typical day is never typical, but mostly he helps restore and/or maintain the homes of the creatures that live in LCWM preserves.
Jason does habitat restoration in his free time, too. He tends to his backyard native plant garden and helps others in the community to do the same. He has been a trained National Weather Spotter for 8 years.
Growing up visiting the Upper Peninsula and northwest Michigan from his home in Detroit, Chris developed a passion for the outdoors and the value conservation early on. He followed that into local park positions and then a degree in wildlife and conservation biology at Michigan State University. Taking those skills on the road, Chris worked for universities, state, and federal agencies on a variety of projects, from bears in Yosemite to beavers in Acadia, and habitat research and education programs in Maryland and upstate New York. Chris returned to Michigan to help restore critically rare oak savanna habitat with the Manistee National Forest before joining the Land Conservancy of West Michigan in 2022 as the conservation easement stewardship specialist. Chris is excited to help landowners manage their LCWM easement properties to protect valuable ecosystems and resources across the region.
When not in the field, Chris enjoys exploring the Upper Peninsula, community advocacy and mutual aid, playing music, and riding bicycles of all kinds.
Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Han loves hiking and being outdoors, and relocated to West Michigan specifically for the amazing variety of natural resources. He has served in the nonprofit sector for more than a decade in a variety of leadership, management, board, and direct service roles. As the Development Manager at the Land Conservancy of West Michigan he has the opportunity to demonstrate that philanthropy, community engagement, and nature are for everybody, and is thrilled to able to help keep nature nearby.
Han holds a J.D. from Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, a Master’s of Social Service (M.S.W.-equivalent) from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work, and B.A. from Smith College (Massachusetts).
Marie grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where gorgeous natural surroundings are difficult to escape. Naturally, she developed a deep appreciation for those surroundings, and along with it a desire to help preserve them.
Marie relocated to the Grand Rapids area in 2010 and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a B.A. in English and Professional Writing in 2014. In 2015, she began reporting on Great Lakes environmental news for Great Lakes Echo and was later promoted to the website’s assistant editor. She wrote and podcasted about vernal pools, dark sky parks, wildlife disease, invasive species and more, and she realized the power of storytelling to inform the public and inspire environmental protection. She joined the Land Conservancy of West Michigan as the organization’s Communications Specialist in 2018. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to spread the word about the importance of keeping nature nearby.