As an ecologist with special interests in restoration ecology, agroecology, and ecosystem management, Jim received a PhD in ecology from the University of Georgia and a BS in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From 1985-1995, he worked at the interface of land management issues examining potential improvements of traditional agricultural systems and restoration of degraded pastures in Costa Rica, working with traditional farmers on inland fisheries development in West Africa, serving as an ecologist for the Nooksack Indian Tribe in western Washington State, and conducting training workshops on sustainable agriculture for agricultural extension agents in the state of Georgia.
James also taught at the Graduate School of Environmental Studies at Bard College. From 1996-2006, he was involved with the International Honors Program, as Traveling Faculty, as Academic Director, and Executive Director. Jim and his family live in an environmentally designed home using geothermal, passive solar, and a wood stove in the Town of Centerville in southern Manitowoc County.