Friday, 05 02, 2014
1-800-852-0942, ext. 4425
Ky. – The Kentucky Department of
Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission has unanimously selected retired Natural
Resources Conservation Service executive Gregory Johnson of Lexington to lead
the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources as its next
Commission took the action at a special called meeting Friday, May 2, at Fish
and Wildlife Headquarters in Frankfort.
Johnson, 58, will begin work
May 16. A lifetime hunter, angler and outdoorsman, he will become only the
eighth commissioner in the department’s 70-year history.
1979 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) with a Bachelor of Science
Degree in wildlife management and minors in fisheries biology and chemistry,
Johnson retired in 2011 after more than 30 years with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS assists farmers and other land owners,
including governments and other federal agencies, in maintaining healthy and
productive working landscapes.
are extremely pleased to offer Greg this opportunity and that he has accepted,”
said Commission Chairman Stuart Ray. “The Commission conducted an exhaustive
and thorough six-month-long nationwide search to find the right person to head
one of this country’s premier fish and wildlife agencies. And that is precisely what we accomplished.
“Greg comes to us with a
unique combination of a solid resource professional background, years of
successful executive leadership experience, and is a lifetime hunter, angler
and outdoorsman,” Ray said.
grew up farming in the northern Illinois community of Wasco. He graduated St.
Charles High School and became a fishing guide in northern Wisconsin helping
clients pursue northern pike and walleye.
A client from Eastern Kentucky University suggested Johnson come to Kentucky
to pursue his education.
began his career with the U.S. Forest Service research station in Berea working
with Kentucky and Appalachia coal companies researching effective and efficient
methods of reclaiming strip mines.
He soon moved to the USDA’s
Soil Conservation Service, the predecessor to today’s NRCS, as district
conservationist for Wayne, McCreary and Russell counties. In 1990, he assumed
area conservationist duties for 28 counties and administrative responsibilities
for 27 field offices. He supervised a diverse staff of program and technical
experts, and 17 district conservationists. Subsequently, he would serve as the
NRCS State Resource Specialist for Kentucky and then another eight years in the
same capacity for the eight-state Midwest region.
His selection to USDA’s
Senior Executive Development Program took him to Washington D.C. in 2004. There
he served in multiple USDA-NRCS Conservation, Technical, and Financial senior
executive level director positions until he retired in
As director of the Financial
Assistance Program Division, he was responsible for an annual appropriation in
excess of $1 billion, helping farmers and ranchers across the country plan and
implement conservation practices.
“Kentucky’s hunting and
fishing heritage is among the richest anywhere,” said Johnson, “I am excited to
become a part of that. This agency’s wildlife and fisheries successes are well
recognized among professionals everywhere, and I am looking forward to
continuing and building upon those traditions.
“This is not just work or a
job for me,” he said. “Fish and wildlife conservation is what I have been
committed to my whole life. It is what I do. It is who I am.”
Johnson lives in Lexington
with his wife, Melynda. His daughter, Kendra, is a Tates Creek Middle School
teacher and girls basketball coach. His son, Ryan, is completing the Kentucky
Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy to become a University of
Kentucky police officer.