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, he has worked as a botanist in Washington, Utah, and in a forest ecology lab at Washington University in St. Louis focused on plant diversity and patterns of community assembly. Ben is returning to serve a second term with the Hemlock Restoration Initiative and is looking forward to helping communities in western North Carolina protect their hemlock trees. In his free time, Ben enjoys hiking, running, reading, climbing, and playing board games.