J. Drew Lanham is a nature-phile. He spends most of his time thinking about nature and trying in some way to make it matter to others. In his nineteen years as a Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University he’s spent a large portion of his career trying to understand how what humans do impacts birds and other wildlife. As a Black American he’s intrigued with how ethnicity—whether color or culture, bends perceptions of nature and how it should be cared for. To that end one of his missions is to broaden the audience of those who see, love and care for nature. He calls this “coloring the conservation conversation”.
Drew is a native South Carolinian –and a different kind of Southern Son. He loves the region for what it is ecologically — the Blue Ridge mountains shrouded in mist to thousand year old bald cypress swamps and coastal marshes that creep to the sea. Black-throated green warblers in jungle-like mountain cove forests, Bachman’s sparrows singing sweetly in longleaf pine flatwoods and black rails “kiki-kerring” in a Low Country marsh are his home birds. In his avian affections he writes a great deal about southern places. Because nature –birds in particular—are such vital cogs in his being- much of what he speaks and writes about is colored with a southern accent.
With his B.A. and M.S. in Zoology (Clemson) and PhD in Forest Resources (Clemson), Drew is an accomplished scientist who was recently named a Clemson University Master Teacher and an Alumni Distinguished Professor. He strongly believes that conservation must be a blending of art and heart. He is active on a number of conservation boards included South Carolina Audubon and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. He’s been to forty of the fifty states and spent time birding abroad in South Africa and South America. He has a healthy wanderlust and travels extensively to speak on his passion. He has spoken and led tours at major bird festivals including the Biggest Week in American Birding and The Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival. He is widely published as a nature writer and his first solo work, The Home Place-Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature (Milkweed Editions) will be published in 2016.
Drew and his wife Janice Garrison Lanham live in Seneca, SC. They have two adult children Kimberly Alexis and Donovan Colby. His favorite birds are the ones with feathers. The lifer he most covets is the next one he sees.