J.R. has been studying rare and endangered fishes in the southeastern U.S. for over 30 years. Before founding CFI J.R. and his wife Peggy were involved in one of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s earliest projects funded under Section 6 of the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act of 1973 as employees of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington . During the course of this project, as they surveyed the rare, endemic fishes of Lake Waccamaw, NC, many of the non-invasive surveying techniques currently used by CFI were developed.
J.R. and Peggy moved to Knoxville in 1981 to pursue graduate degrees at the Univeristy of Tennessee. There they both continued to work with imperiled fishes. It was at UTK that J.R. met Pat Rakes, also working with an imperiled fish for his graduate work. In the years following graduate school J.R. and Pat founded Conservation Fisheries to continue their work with rare fishes.