I grew up in West Virginia where I was a typical outdoorsy kid camping out on our family farm and spending time at my grandparents farm on Middle Island Creek. After high school, I moved to Kentucky to pursue a higher education. I received a BS in Wildlife Management (1978) and an MS in Biology (1981) from Eastern Kentucky University. I started out working for the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission as a botanist and then went to work for the state’s Division of Water as an Environmental Specialist. After about a year and a half there I became a Senior Wildlife Biologist for Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources working in the Environmental Section. In 1986, I became KDFWR’s Upland Game Coordinator where I oversaw small game species research, population surveys, and developed and coordinated the department’s private lands technical guidance programs. In 1999, I made a leap to work with The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky, assuming the role of Director of Conservation Programs. I’ve been here ever since. My duties include developing and implementing long-range conservation plans for both aquatic and terrestrial landscape level projects across Kentucky, overseeing the management of our landholdings across Kentucky, promoting our prescribed fire management efforts across the state, and serving as the liaison between TNC and its natural conservation partners located throughout Kentucky. I currently live in Frankfort, KY with my wife Carol and sons Aaron and Tyler.
I encourage everyone to utilize native plants when planning their backyard landscapes. A huge part of Kentucky’s invasive species problem originates when consumers make poor choices for landscaping projects. Native plants are combine beauty and practicality. There are many varieties to choose from. They should be everyone’s first choice when planning a landscaping project.
Nature.org: Have you always had an interest in conservation?
Jeff Sole: Yes. I grew up in West Virginia. As a child, camping, fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities were a regular part of my life. From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a part of conserving nature and protecting wildlife.
Nature.org: How did your career path lead to working with The Nature Conservancy?
Jeff Sole: After obtaining my MS in Biology, I immediately looked for employment that would utilize my skills to enhance conservation initiatives in Kentucky. Several jobs with the state of Kentucky gave me exposure to The Nature Conservancy’s work across the state. When an opportunity came along to join TNC, I said, “sign me up!”
Nature.org: What projects have your focus right now?
Jeff Sole: As the Director of Conservation Programs, there are so many projects to focus on. We definitely have a lot going on! However, the two projects I’m most involved with right now are our continuing conservation initiatives on the Green River and the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program currently taking place in western Kentucky.
Nature.org: What do you hope to tackle over the next couple of years?
Jeff Sole: Reaching the 5,000 acre goal of the WREP with bottomland hardwood restoration on Obion Creek/Bayou de Chien. I also hope to increase our work to reduce sediment inputs into the Green River through riparian habitat restoration and land protection initiatives.