Jeff Nania, author of Figure Eight: A Northern Lakes Mystery, was born and raised in Wisconsin. His family were residents of the storied Madison Greenbush neighborhood. His first career was in law enforcement serving in many roles. He was a decorated officer and found great value in serving the community.
The lifelong outdoorsman began in-depth exploration of our natural resources. It led him to a new career founding and leading the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association Wetland Restoration Field Team, restoring hundreds of wetlands across the state. Through this work, he became nationally recognized as one of the pioneers in the ecosystem-based approach to restoration. He was named by Outdoor Life Magazine as one of the nation’s 25 most influential conservationists, was Wisconsin Wildlife Federation’s Conservationist of the Year, and has received the National Wetlands Award, Leopold Restoration Award, and Wisconsin Outdoor News Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jeff recognized that loss of connection between kids and the outdoors was a national crisis and began to donate his energy to restoring that connection. Teaming with others, he developed Outdoor Adventure Days, an interactive outdoor classroom experience giving over 8,700 children a wet and muddy day in the field. Building on this foundation, Jeff co-founded one of the first environmentally-focused charter schools with teacher Victoria Rydberg, and together, they brought this “hands on, feet wet” philosophy to teachers and students across Wisconsin.
Jeff is semi-retired and writes for Wisconsin Outdoor News and other publications. Living on his farm in central Wisconsin, he spends as much time as possible outdoors. He can be often found with his family fishing muskies or snorkeling for treasure on Spider Lake.
Victoria Rydberg-Nania is author of Hands On, Feet Wet: The Story of River Crossing Environmental Charter School and project director of Hands On, Earth Math: Digging Deeper into Environmental Topics. Download a PDF of Hands On, Feet Wet and read more of Victoria’s writing at HandsOnFeetWet.com.