Jim Harkness’ China journey began at age 14, when he was chosen to join the first US high school student delegation to visit the People’s Republic of China.
After combining Chinese language and wildlife ecology studies at the University of Wisconsin, he was asked by the International Crane Foundation to help initiate field work in China at a time when most areas of the country were still closed to outsiders. In 1990-91, ICF sent him to Tibet as part of the first comprehensive survey of the rare Black-necked Crane.
After receiving his Masters’ degree from Cornell University in 1993, Jim worked as coordinator for the American Zoo Association Giant Panda Conservation Action Plan. He then served as a program officer for Environment and Development at the Ford Foundation China office and then as Chief Representative for WWF hina.
He returned to the US in 2006 to serve as President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Since 2019, Jim has been China Country Director at the NGS.