Jeff Nania
Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
Portage, Wisconsin

Jeff Nania lives in rural Columbia County, Wisconsin, with his three kids, Jim, Chris and Becky, all who have served penance as part of his wetland restoration field team.

Mr. Nania has been the Project Director for the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association (WWA) since 1993. At the time of his hire, he was charged with improving the quality of wetland restoration projects in Wisconsin. He conducted site reviews of many projects across the state of Wisconsin and the U.S. studying their successes and—perhaps more importantly—their failures. From his observations, Mr. Nania became convinced that putting water on the landscape was not enough and that each restoration site had many different elements that needed to be addressed from an ecosystem-based approach. This included an extensive investigation of site history, and an examination of pre-restoration site conditions, including soils, remnant seed bank, the presence or absence of hydrology, and site topography. Using this information, Mr. Nania and his restoration crews developed restoration plans that not only included shallow emergent “duck marshes”, but sedge meadows, upland grasslands, and woodlands.

Mr. Nania leads WWA’s efforts—in partnership with fourteen other conservation groups, over a dozen government agencies, and many private landowners across Wisconsin—to build wetland restoration projects, starting with the initial site review and seeing them through the finished construction and post-construction monitoring.

In 1996, Mr. Nania became concerned that children were losing touch with natural resources, and launched Outdoor Adventure Days, an interactive, (muddy and wet) outdoor classroom. To date the program has hosted more than 7000 kids from around Wisconsin. In 2002, Mr. Nania took his interest in wetland education a step further and helped start the River Crossing Environmental Charter School, a full-time school for seventh and eighth graders. Mr. Nania leads the students each week as they plan and implement restoration projects.

In all his endeavors, Mr. Nania is an effective wetland advocate and lobbyist, a pioneer in historical wetland restoration, and a leader in wetland outreach.