About Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips is a naturalist, nature writer, registered arboricultural consultant, director and principal of The Naturalist School (formerly New Tree School).


After a career as a humanities professor that took him to Native Alaskan Communities and the Middle East, Jack devoted himself to the study of native North American ecosystems and nature education. His teaching and consulting takes him to diverse ecosystems and communities across North America.

TNS at  pond

Riparian ecology workshop, Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

Jack is the author of Soul of a Tree: Conversations on the Nature of Tree Care with Alex Shigo and The Bur Oak Manifesto: Seeking Nature and Planting Trees in the Great Plains and editor of Treasures of the Great Plains: an Ecological Perspective with Paul Johnsgard and Tom Lynch. He is also a regular contributor to Prairie Fire Newspaper: the Progressive Voice of the Great Plains and to a variety of professional journals. Jack’s newest publication, A Pocket Guide to Sauntering is available at The Naturalist School events.


Root studies at the Calgary Zoo, Alberta.

In addition to educational programs, Jack and his colleagues offer tree consulting services for landscape architects, government agencies, nonprofits, property owners, and for anyone who wants to plant, preserve, and care for native trees and plant communities.


Some of Jack’s recent projects and clients include:

Alley Poyner Macchietto Architects (Omaha, NE),  Douglas County (NE) Environmental Services, Golden Hills RC&D (IA), Harrison County County Conservation (IA), Immanuel Cemetery (Charleston, S.C.), Loess Hills Alliance, McCook (NE) Public Works, Nebraska Forest Service, New Skete Monastery (Cambridge, NY), Omaha Downtown Improvement District, Omaha by Design, Ottawa (ON) Urban Forestry, Pottawattamie County Conservation (IA), Prospect Hill Cemetery (Omaha, NE), Regina (SK) Urban Forestry, Sarpy County (NE) Planning, Saskatoon (SK) Urban Forestry, Windermere (FL) Tree Board, Vireo Landscape Architecture and Planning, and Winnipeg (MB) Urban Forestry.

jack and kevin

Jack with Kevin T. Smith, US Forest Service.

Certifications and memberships:

Thoreau Society
Aldo Leopold Foundation
Ecological Society of America
Iowa Native Plant Society

Certified, International Society of Arboriculture
Registered, American Society of Consulting Arborists

*Photos by Robert Smith; Jack with snake by Craig Maier.