J.B. Lester: Local Steward of The Healthy Planet

JB LesterBy Don Corrigan

J.B. Lester, publisher of The Healthy Planet for a quarter century, shrugs off accolades for his nature advocacy and his editorial work to raise awareness on environmental issues. Instead, he describes himself as a messenger or conduit for environmental experts and real champions of the outdoors. He cites his many columnists and free-lance writers.

He is quick to single out one of his scribes, Jean Ponzi, whom he calls “Green Jean.” She is the Green Resources Manager for the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Earthways Center. According to Lester, Ponzi has informed, educated and entertained with prose and poetry on topics ranging from recycling to honeysuckle removal to wildflower gardens.

The Healthy Planet has a stable of writers from organizations such as the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, the Department of Conservation and a host of others. Lester adds a personal touch with his regular column about everything from the lack of social responsibility during a 100-year pandemic to his encounter with a moose on a trip to Colorado.

“My favorite columns are where I can take a magnifying glass to the eco-system in my Webster backyard – whether it’s on the hungry caterpillar on my tomato plants or our annual praying mantis family,” noted Lester. “By looking closely at what is right next to us, we can learn so much about how to view things farther away. I think the artists call this perspective.”

A photographer with an eye for nature, Lester put in a score of years capturing images as founder, editor and co-publisher of Webster-Kirkwood Times, before starting The Healthy Planet. A favorite photo is a close-up shot of a golden eagle with a face, head and feathers that resemble Planet Earth. He’s tagged the photo as “Eagle Rising.”

In addition to providing 25 years of the Healthy Planet for St. Louis, Lester has orchestrated two Expos annually that reflect the magazine’s editorial mission of health, wellness and the environment. Expo exhibitors provide live music, food and beverage samples, and plenty of free health screenings and even chair massages. To learn more about the Expos, visit online HERE and also sign up for a free monthly subscription.


Environmental Echo will periodically single out outdoor / environmental heroes who have made a difference in the St. Louis area and beyond. Many of these individuals hail from the Webster Groves – Kirkwood area, where writer Don Corrigan is Editor Emeritus of the weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times. Corrigan is the author of Environmental Missouri by Reedy Press.

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