Coraopolis, Pa. – The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS) announced the selection of Benjamin C. Jones as their new President and Chief Executive Officer. Following the planned retirement of then President and CEO John Eichinger, the Board of Directors began an exhaustive national search to find his replacement, and Ben emerged as a leader in science-based conservation.
“Ben brings the experience, skills and passion to lead our programs from habitat to hunter recruitment,” reported RGS/AWS Board of Directors Chair David Moore following Ben’s selection. “Ben was the unanimous choice among our search committee, and in my experience, that’s a rarity for an executive search. He’s a great fit for our organization, and we’re so excited to have him at the helm.”
Ben’s professional pursuit of forest and wildlife conservation began over 25 years ago, but his passion was sparked long before that. “From my earliest memories, I always wanted to be a forest ranger or a wildlife biologist tracking moose somewhere in the Canadian wilds. Young kids aspire to be professionals in uniform, and those were the ones that caught my eye! I’ll never forget seeing my first woodcock brood when I was about seven years old or harvesting my first grouse at age 15. Wildlife and the natural world have always been a passion for me, and I’ve been driven and very blessed to build that passion into a career.”
Upon graduating from Penn State, Ben left his native Pennsylvania to explore forest management and prescribed fire in Mississippi, then to western North Carolina to engage with the U.S. Forest Service on ruffed grouse biology and habitat as part of the Appalachian Cooperative Grouse Research Project. In 2005, he joined the Pennsylvania Game Commission as their Public Lands Section Chief and in 2010 became the agency’s Habitat Division Chief where he oversaw public and private lands, GIS and wildland fire programs. He’s also been active in helping woodland owners with sustainable timber harvests.
“It’s so rewarding to see projects come together and know you’re making a difference across a landscape – that a grouse will raise her brood in there and a hunter and his dog could enjoy a hunt in the fall – or a father and his daughter might tag a deer there, and migrant songbirds will stop for a rest in the spring. That’s what it’s all about, and there are so many opportunities,” Ben continued.
Ben has spent the past week working with the RGS/AWS Board of Directors and getting to know staff. “I’m so excited to start building support and partnerships based on the RGS mission of healthy forests, abundant wildlife and sporting traditions. Our organization is in a great position to make a difference,” he said.
Ben earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science with a forest science minor from Penn State, a master’s degree in wildlife ecology from Mississippi State, and a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Tennessee. He resides near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his wife Michelle, three children and the family’s English setter. He is an avid outdoorsman, hunting at every available opportunity, with a passion for introducing the next generation of hunters to our sporting traditions.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society are North America’s foremost conservation organizations dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS and AWS work with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.
More about the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society, mission and programs can be found at www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.