Sound Native Plants was founded in 1992 by Ben Alexander and Susan Buis. Ben Alexander continues to manage the business. Susan moved on to new endeavors in 2003, but she remains a co-owner, business adviser, and occasional collaborator. SNP employees share work experience in complementary fields such as: restoration in national parks wilderness, ecological fieldwork and analysis, environmental education and outreach, environmental permitting, and watershed planning. The SNP nursery has provided work-study employment for students from nearby colleges since 1993.
Ben is co-owner of Sound Native Plants. He oversees SNP installation and maintenance programs, and provides professional consulting on project planning, design and permitting. Ben’s experience includes:
- Creating and implementing plans for steep slope stabilization, including reconstruction of banks using live cribwalls, vegetated geogrids, willow fascines, geotextiles, and native plantings.
- Designing and installing restoration projects for streams, marine bluffs, wetlands and wetland buffers, and lakeshores in western Washington.
- Compiling and evaluating weed control techniques for invasive species commonly found on restoration sites in western Washington.
- Designing and installing low-flow irrigation systems for restoration sites.
- Serving as Environmental Planner for Thurston County Stormwater Program for five years; primary author of comprehensive drainage basin plans.
- Supervising the activities of the Thurston County Stream Team.
- Developing and managing wilderness restoration projects for Olympic and Yosemite National Parks.
Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Planning from the Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA, and is qualified to conduct the Riparian Function and Fish Habitat modules for Washington Department of Natural Resources Watershed Analyses.
Ben has several publications to his credit, including: McAllister/Eaton Creek Comprehensive Drainage Basin Plan, Thurston County, WA, 1994; “Restoring Yosemite’s Wildlands” in the Bulletin of the Yosemite Association, CA, 1989; contributing author, Oaks of California, ed. John Evarts, Cachuma Press, CA, 1992; Photographic Documentation: Soleduck Revegetation Project, USDI National Park Service, Denver, CO, 1991. E-mail Ben.
Susan is co-founder of Sound Native Plants and is a recognized authority on propagating northwest native plants. Currently, Susan works on environmental protection issues for Washington State. She continues to consult and give workshops for Sound Native Plants on occasion.
Susan was a founding contributing editor of the Native Plants Journal and speaks widely on the subjects of writing specifications for native plants for restoration and mitigation projects, native plant propagation and other topics. She has taught classes and workshops for the University of Washington, Society of Wetland Scientists, the Society for Ecological Restoration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Transportation, the Washington Native Plant Society, and numerous local community projects and groups. Susan’s professional experience also includes:
- Designing and installing wetland mitigation projects in the Puget Sound area.
- Creating and implementing plans for restoration of stream banks, marine bluffs, and lake shores in western Washington.
- Producing a model native plant nursery propagation and management program for the City of Kent.
- Authoring a National Park Service guide to propagating and using common native plants for restoration purposes in western Washington.
- Developing and managing wilderness restoration projects, including nursery operations, for Olympic and Yosemite National Parks.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from the Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA, and has pursued continuing education in horticulture. E-mail Susan.
Ned, who doesn’t like having his picture taken, became the nursery crew supervisor for Sound Native Plants in 2010. Before coming to SNP, Ned was already well established in the Olympia plant world, having spent 6 years managing the nursery portion of the Black Lake Organics store, and 12 years running his own landscaping business. Ned also raises various animals for milk and meat (he claims his animals eat better than he does) and tends to a small but vocal pack of American akitas.
In addition to Ned’s nursery duties, he has also written and published a book, The Pitfalls of Natural Selection. Ned blogs on The Daily Kos, and his blog entry about Sound Native Plants in fall 2011 was featured in the Community Spotlight. In a past life, Ned was a high school wrestler, but you would need an active imagination to picture it.
Ned studied philosophy, theology and history at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, PA and at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY. E-mail Ned.
Rebecca started at SNP as part of our work-study student crew, working in the nursery while she pursued her BA in natural science and visual art at the Evergreen State College. Since graduating in March 2015, she has joined our staff as a regular employee. As the Nursery Sales Lead, Rebecca responds to customer inquiries, processes plant orders, tracks and updates inventory, and coordinates the shipping and distribution of the plants out into our communities. Rebecca’s experience includes:
- Organic farming at the Evergreen State College
- Farm technician on a seed production farm managed by the Center for Natural Lands Management
- Crew lead for the 4-H Summer Forestry and Leadership Program
- Trail building and maintenance for the Pacific Northwest Trails Association; 3 years of seasonal work as crew member, crew lead, and sawyer
- Seasonal trail maintenance and log-out for the US Forest Service
- Volunteer and intern for the Nisqually Land Trust, the Nisqually River Education Project, and the Eye on Nature program at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Andrew joined Sound Native Plants in late 2016 as the Olympia-based installation crew leader. He worked previously for Capitol Land Trust. His experience includes:
- Creating and implementing plans for the restoration of important habitat in western Washington.
- Developing and running volunteer programs focused on invasive species control and restoration plantings
- Land conservation work with multiple non-profit organizations throughout New England and the Pacific Northwest.
- Installing and maintaining restoration plantings
Andrew holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Design from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with coursework focusing on landscape architecture, natural resource conservation, and restoration ecology. E-mail Andrew.
Chad joined SNP in 2002 and has been the crew leader for our Vancouver, WA – based installation crew since 2003. Chad ‘s experience includes:
- Developing invasive plant management and native habitat restoration programs for an organic farm and wildlife refuge on Snoqualmie River.
- Creating and maintaining a native plant nursery to supply restoration projects.
- Owning and managing a gardening and landscaping business in Seattle.
- Installing and maintaining a wide variety of restoration plantings.
- Growing and selling retail plants in Seattle.
Chad has completed science and music coursework through Pacific Lutheran University. He manages the installation and maintenance of restoration and mitigation projects in the greater Portland/Vancouver region for Sound Native Plants. Since 2009, Chad has also run his own organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in Vancouver. E-mail Chad.
Brendan has been a member of SNP’s Portland-Vancouver team since December 2012 and Field Manager since 2013. He oversees projects involving storm water mitigation, invasive plant management, native plant installations, and habitat restoration. Brendan brings a diverse background and range of interests. Experience includes:
- Forestry Technician Gifford Pinchot Forest Service and Wildland Fire Fighting
- Watershed Monitoring and Water Resources Education for Clark County and City of Vancouver
- Creekside habitat restoration, orchard, garden, and farm care on family property in rural Washougal
- Private landscape contractor
- Native and ornamental plant nursery assistant
- Additional community work as a nonprofit board member and neighborhood association lead
Brendan holds a BA from Portland State University in History and International Studies with additional and continuing studies in language, ecology, botany, urban and regional planning. E-mail Brendan.