Our Staff

Jim Nelson, Owner

Jim has two decades of natural resource experience in the midwest. From Southern Wisconsin to Central Illinois, he served as an ecological restoration and native landscape project manager for Applied Ecological Services, a restoration professional for LaGesse and Associates and a watershed planner before opening Nelson Land Management.

Jim is an IL Certified Burn Manager, holds several wildland fire certifications, and has extensive experience managing invasive species of concern in the central midwest. 

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John Schappaugh, Foreman
John joined NLM in October of 2020. His previous experience as a seasonal employee of IL Department of Natural Resources at New Salem State Park gave him experience in clearing areas of invasive species and treatment of the natural landscape. He gained knowledge of herbicides and farm equipment while working at the local Farm & Home store in Petersburg, Illinois. When he’s not working, you will find him officiating or participating in paintball tournaments across the US. 

Brad Olson, Ecological Restoration Technician

Brad joined Nelson Land Management in August of 2020. He earned a bachelor's degree in Zoology and a minor in Geography from Western Illinois University in Macomb. Brad serves in the Illinois National guard as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear specialist. He previously worked for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at Big River State Forest. Even in his off-time you can find Brad in the timber deer hunting or scouting.

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Trevor Wasson, Ecological Restoration Technician
Trevor joined NLM in January 2021.     He graduated from Drake University in Des Moines with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and Biological Conservation, where he assisted with and performed his own research into habitat restoration and species reintroduction. He previously worked as a Forestry Technician intern with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources at Loess Hills State Forest. In his off time, you can find him on a hiking trail or at a bird blind.

Toby Bassingthwaite, Ecological Restoration Technician 
Toby graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor's of Science in the dual sequences of Conservation Biology and Zoology with a minor in Environmental Studies. She has worked with bumblebees for nearly 3 years in Dr. Ben Sadd's lab on campus before finding Nelson Land Management. When not working, she bartends on the weekends, walks hiking trails or can be found reading a good book.

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Randa Watkins, Ecological Restoration Technician 
Randa joined Nelson Land Management in April of 2021. She graduated from the University of Illinois, Springfield with a Bachelor's in Environmental Studies. In her free time she enjoys hiking, camping and enjoying the outdoors.