Jeff Nania was born and raised in Wisconsin. His family settled in Madison’s storied Greenbush neighborhood. His father often loaded Jeff, his brothers, and a couple of dogs into an old jeep station wagon and set out for outdoor adventures. These experiences were foundational for developing a sense of community, a passion for outdoor traditions, and a love of our natural resources.
Jeff’s first career was in law enforcement where he found great satisfaction in serving the community. He was a decorated officer who served in many roles, including as a member of the canine unit patrolling with his dog, Rosi.
Things changed and circumstances dictated he take a new direction. The lifelong outdoorsman found a path to serve a different type of community. Over half of Wisconsin’s wetlands had been lost, and more were lost each year. Jeff began working with willing landowners to develop successful strategies to restore some of these lost wetlands. This journey led to creating a field team of strong conservation partners who restored thousands of acres of wetlands and uplands Wisconsin.
During that time, Jeff realized that the greatest challenge to our environment was the loss of connection between our kids and the outdoors. He donated his energy to restore that connection through Outdoor Adventure Days, an interactive experience giving school 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 the “hands on, feet wet” philosophy to teachers and students across the state.
A pioneer in the ecosystem-based approach to restoration and a tireless advocate for conservation education, Jeff has been recognized locally, statewide, and nationally for his work. Outdoor Life Magazine named him as one of the nation’s 25 most influential conservationists and he received the National Wetlands Award. The Wisconsin Senate commended Jeff with a Joint Resolution for his work with wetlands, education, and as a non-partisan advisor on natural resources.
Jeff is semi-retired and writes for Wisconsin Outdoor News and other publications. Whether he’s cutting wood, sitting in a wetland, fishing muskies, or snorkeling Spider Lake for treasure, Jeff spends as much time as possible outdoors.
In the News…
About Jeff Nania:
- Conservationist surprised with lifetime award from Wisconsin Outdoor News
- Nania wins career award for charter school work
- Nania receives Wetland Enjoyment Award
- Nania, Meyer get Outdoor Life Honors
- Local activist to attend White House on wildlife, hunting policy
- Wisconsin wetland wizard earns national award
About Wisconsin Conservation:
- Smith: On Earth Day, a reflection on Aldo Leopold, the land ethic, and hunting
- Stewardship rules now suits conservationists
- Stewardship lands access rule passes
Additional Publications by Jeff:
- "Global Warming: An Inconvenient Truth with an Inconvenient Answer" (Spring/Summer 2008), Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.
- "Age of Discovery" (Winter/Spring 2007), Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.
- "Ramblings from a day hunting: The election and ecological restoration" (December 2006), Wisconsin Sportmen's Digest.
- "Hunting: The Future" (Nov 2006), Wisconsin Sportmen's Digest.
- "Progress: The Word has Many Meanings" (Winter/Spring 2006), Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
- "Willys: Fence Rows Conversation" (Winter/Summer 2005), Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.
- "The Oldman, the double barrel, and the youngster" (Summer/Fall 2002), Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.
- "WWA Rewrites History" (date unknown), Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.
- "Wetland Habitat Restoration" (date unknown), Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.
"About Figure Eight" with Jeff Nania
Richland Center, Wisconsin