Russ currently resides in Arlington, Mass. He received his bachelor's degree in land use planning
from Vassar College in 1978, and received a masters in Natural Resources and a law degree from
Ohio State University in 1982. He has been employed by the Riverways Program
(now part of the Division of Ecological Restoration) of the Mass. Department
of Fish and Game since 1988, and served as its Rivers Advocate from 1992 until retiring from state service at the end of June.
Other past employers have included the Nature Conservancy, the Land Trust Alliance,
the Hillside Trust, a land trust in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Mass. Audubon Society.
Awards Russ has received for his rivers work include: the Environmental Achievement Award from Save the Bay (RI) in 1993; the Environmental Service Award from the Mass. Association of Conservation Commissions in 1997; the Public Servant of the Year Award from the Environmental League of Massachusetts
(also in 1997); an Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2003; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Massachusetts Wetland Scientists in 2011; and the River Steward Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of Women Voters and Sudbury-Assabet-Concord River Stewardship Council in 2012. Russ also received a "Heritage Hero" award from the Essex National Heritage Commission in 2006 for his foraging writing and programs. Most recently, Russ received the 2013 Education Award from the New England Wild Flower Society, in recognition of both his rivers work and foraging programs.
Russ is in the midst of his 41st year of teaching courses about wild edibles. Each year, he typically leads over three dozen classes/walks, mostly from May to October, for over two dozen different organizations, including the Massachusetts
Audubon Society, the New England Wild Flower Society, The Trustees of Reservations and the Ecological Landscaping Association. These foraging programs are held at various indoor (for slide shows) and outdoor locations throughout New England and upstate NY, ranging from two-hour evening walks in the city and suburbs to lengthier explorations in the mountains and along the seacoast. During the "off-season", Russ writes articles on foraging and gives slide presentations featuring many of his favorite edible wild plants and mushrooms found in the Northeast. Russ' foraging book, Wild Plants I Have Known...and Eaten (see link below), came out in June of 2004, and is now in its sixth printing.
Over the years, Russ and his wife Ellen have hosted eight "Harvest Parties" for their friends, for which they prepared several dozen dishes (appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, desserts, condiments, and hot and cold beverages),
all utilizing wild ingredients they foraged for themselves.
Latest Update: 7/8/15