Jim Brett

December 7, 1939 - December 29, 2023

Born in Easton, Pennsylvania, and raised in Shillington, James was a graduate of Governor Mifflin High School and Kutztown State Teachers’ College where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Education. He completed postgraduate studies at Cornell University and University of Southern California and was presented with an honorary Doctoral Degree from Kutztown University in 2011.

James Brett was a prominent figure in the area of conservation education on a global scale. He was the former Curator at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary where he initiated the International Global Wildlife Educational Internship Program in 1976, as well as his work on wildlife heritage in the Commonwealth. He was named Curator Emeritus at Hawk Mountain in 2013.

After James left Hawk Mountain in 1996, he was named the first Executive Director of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and the Arts, before being appointed by former Governor Tom Ridge as the Commonwealth’s Senior Conservation Advisor. During his tenure with the Ridge administration, he formed the Governor’s Youth Council for Sportsmen’s Concerns and Conservation.

He continued his conservation work with the state government into Governor Ed Rendell’s administration where he served as an Assistant to the Secretary of Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and was recognized by the Department of Environmental Protection as one of the top environmental leaders of Pennsylvania. He was the co-founder of the PA Institute for Conservation Education which has received recognition from across the state for its development of innovative natural history education and stewardship programs offered to a diverse audience.

James traveled extensively around the world and led wildlife excursions to Eastern and Southern Africa, Israel and Central America with his company, The NatureCorp Group. James also led the Ngare Sero Foot Print Project working with Tanzania Division of Antiquities under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. James was a prolific writer having authored and co-authored three books, Feathers in the Wind, The Mountain and the Migration: A Guide to Hawk Mountain, and Hawk Mountain: A Conservation Success Story.