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Meet the Funga Team: Josh Parrish

Get to know the Funga crew with this newest installment of our "Meet the Team" series. Come back monthly to meet more team members, hear about their journey to Funga, and understand their vital role in our community.

Josh tending to his own forest land in Pennsylvania.

We’re big fans of the “Today I get to….” mentality. So, what do you get to do every day at Funga?

I joined Funga as the Chief Growth Officer in September 2023. In my role, I work with our team to build long term partnerships with landowners, companies and investors that deliver biodiversity, climate and financial benefits. I work with amazing, optimistic people, talk about forests and fungi, and strive to make a positive impact on the world. I enjoy working with landowners to create a healthier, more productive forest by restoring their forest soil microbiome. Funga’s mission is critical given the dual crises of biodiversity collapse and climate change, and I enjoy that my position allows me to present people with a new and exciting solution to help remedy these crises.

If you had to explain what Funga does to a third grader, what would you say?

I like to frame nature as a large connected family. I tell people at Funga we are about reuniting below ground fungi with trees. Once they get to know each other again, they both live a much healthier and more productive life.

Josh with his two daughters.

Tell us a little bit about your life. How did it lead you to Funga?

I started working in the forest at a young age where my love and passion for nature, trees, and building things grew. I set up a woodshop in my parents garage and have had one ever since. In college, I studied accounting and finance which provided me with a foundation to build durable businesses and programs for landowners. My wife and our 2 daughters share a mission to make the world a better place and work to conserve forests and farms in central Pennsylvania. We grow mushrooms on logs in our backyard and forage for 9 types of mushrooms in the woods around our cabin.

About 20 years ago, I joined The Nature Conservancy and spent 15 years working to create programs for landowners that capture ecosystem service values and protect and restore forests. I helped start what is now called NatureVest, the Working Woodlands Program, and the Family Forest Carbon Program which is a partnership between the American Forest Foundation and TNC. I left TNC to enter the climate tech startup space to continue building and spent time at Indigo Ag and Pachama where I built the Pachama Originals that works to bring high quality reforestation to scale in Brazil, Mexico and the U.S.

I had heard about Funga soon after Colin started the company. It combines my professional and personal experiences and interests into a company that has massive potential for impact and scale. I stayed in touch with Colin and the team, and when Funga grew to need a team member who was dedicated to fostering connections such as the kind I had spent much of my career building, I was invited to officially join the Funga-verse.

What is your favorite part of the job?

It’s the positive outcomes I see every day for people and nature. The impacts of restoring our partner landowners' forest soils can start to be measured and seen in less than one growing season. We are building some of the first microbiome-powered regenerative forestry projects, by planting the soil microbiome with the tree to increase biodiversity, carbon sequestration and help landowners by increasing their yield.

What is one workflow/productivity tool or trick that you can’t live without?

Maybe it’s because I own a farm and forest but my trick is starting my day early in the morning and I always feel at my best best when I have a combination of physical work combined with office work.

What trivia round would you know every answer to?

Eastern U.S. tree identification by bark only. I’ve been a tree nut since I was old enough to walk around the woods.

Can you share a favorite memory of/with the Funga team?

In September 2023, we inoculated 1 million loblolly pine seedlings. It was great working together to see the science being applied at our partner PRT-IFCO’s tree nursery. We got our hands and equipment dirty as a team and inoculated an incredible amount of seedlings, and it is fulfilling to know that these seedlings are now planted and actively restoring soil microbiomes across the southeastern U.S.

Funga's reigning tree nerds, Colin (left), Ian (middle), and Josh (right), admiring the aspen forest at Funga's offsite in Santa Fe.

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