As a botanist with nearly 30 years of field experience in southern New England, Hope Leeson’s feet and eyes have traveled over most of the state of Rhode Island. Her many years of determining where the edge of a wetland lies, and searching forests for rare and unusual plants, have contributed to her intimate knowledge of Rhode Island’s natural areas and plant communities. Her work experience has included employment for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, United States Fish and Wildlife Service RI Refuge Complex and several environmental engineering firms. Additionally, she has consulted for the state’s non-profit organizations (Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, New England Wildflower Society, The Nature Conservancy-RI, Save the Bay and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey), documenting Rhode Island’s rare plant populations, native plant communities and invasive species, as well as providing public education on these topics.
Since 2008, as the botanist at the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Leeson has applied her understanding of native plant communities and plant growth habits to the sustainable procurement of wild collected seed, native plant propagation and consultation with land managers for successful habitat restoration through the Rhody Native initiative.
She has been an adjunct faculty member at RISD since 2012, teaching on various botanical topics in the History, Philosophy and Social Sciences, and Landscape Architecture departments. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and growing food and soil in her permaculture-based garden.