Meet NPSNJ’s 2025 Incoming Officers

Every year, at the annual meeting, the NPSNJ membership votes on a slate of officers for two-year posts. This year, we have a number of positions and some shuffling around on the board. We are delighted to announce the slate of officers as follows.

Laura Bush, Recording Secretary

20-year career as a science editor and writer

Member of NPSNJ since 2020

Co-chair of the NPSNJ Advocacy Committee

Currently, filling in frequently as the Recording Secretary

Michael Jacob, Corresponding Secretary

Member of NPSNJ since 2018

Previously served as Membership VP 

Co-leader of the Southwest chapter, Co-chair of the Webinar committee, Co-Webmaster, Quartermaster

Lifelong gardener awakened to native plants after reading Nature’s Best Hope; since 2017 has transformed his property into a Homegrown National Park and squirrel haven

Active with his local Environmental Commission and Green Team and regional coordinator for the Rutgers Environmental Steward program.

Randi Eckel, Vice-President, Membership

Elected president of NPSNJ in 2022

Board Entomologist since 2017

Founded the mail-order native plant nursery Toadshade Wildflower Farm in 1996, with a particular focus on education and the fascinating ecological diversity of the natural world

Involved with NPSNJ for many years as a member and speaker

Serves on the board of directors of the New Jersey Planning Officials; chair of the Frenchtown Planning Board

Bob Swain, Treasurer

Founding member of NPSNJ

Treasurer of NPSNJ for 16 years.

Serves on the board of the Society for Ecological Restoration/Mid-Atlantic Chapter 

Lifetime member of the Society of Wetland Scientists 

Active member of the NJ Forestry Association, Land Improvement Contractors of America, International Society of Arboriculture, and Soil and Water Conservation Society

Kazys Varnelis, President

PhD. in History of Architecture and Urban Development. Taught at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning.

Historian, writer, and artist 

Beginning in 2016, started to re-envision his property in Montclair as a demonstration of a woodland garden in suburbia

Joined NPSNJ in 2017
Founding Co-chair of the Advocacy Committee, Co-Webmaster since 2022, elected Vice-President, Membership in 2023