Ben grew up in Orlando, Florida exploring forests and waterways year-round. He eventually learned the word “deciduous” and graduated with a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science from Stetson University. Since then, Ben has worked as a botanist in Washington, Utah, and most recently, in a forest ecology lab at Washington University in St. Louis focused on plant diversity and patterns of community assembly. Ben is looking forward to serving both the community and the forests of western North Carolina with the Hemlock Restoration Initiative. In his free time, Ben enjoys hiking, running, reading, climbing, and playing board games. His favorite plant is most of them, but he wants to give a shout out to the elephanthead lousewort.