Michael Jones, VA ACES Enrollee

I was born and spent my entire childhood in rural Southside Virginia near a community called Purdy, VA. My rural background and love for the natural world, and all its resources, have been solidly ingrained in me by my family since early childhood. Growing up on the banks of the Nottoway River was every farm boy’s dream and a reality for me.

I attended Virginia Tech and received a B.S. Degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management. Shortly after two years of serving my country in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era, I was fortunate enough to find employment with the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (called the Soil Conservation Service at that time). I received training and served as a soil conservationist at various localities throughout Virginia, and these experiences broadened my knowledge of our natural resources, from the “mountains-to-the-sea”.

During that time-frame, in addition to my career, I was married to my wife Pat, and we raised four lovely children. We are truly a Virginia Tech family and all six of us have attended VT.

I thoroughly enjoyed my career and met many, many interesting co­ workers and clients. I hope that I have positively influenced them as much as they have me. In 2008 I retired after 39 years of employment with NRCS, and we currently live near the home farm on which I was raised.  Living on the banks of the Nottoway River is still a reality for which I will be forever thankful.

I enjoy family, kayaking, wilderness adventures, traveling, outdoor photography, beekeeping, bird watching, hunting, fishing, and almost any outdoor activity. I see myself as an avid naturalist, conservationist, and outdoor enthusiast.  I now also very much enjoy my role as grandparent.

I stay involved in numerous activities such as the Boy Scouts, Southside Beekeepers Association, Virginia Forestry Association, Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Poplar Mount Sportsman Association, etc.

I have authored a periodical Newspaper column entitled “A NATURAL FACT” that was printed in many southside Virginia newspapers. I am often requested to speak before groups on many and varied aspects of the natural world. “The Wild-Side of Flowers” is a favorite  subject of those speaker requests,  but other  subjects  include “Snakes”,  “Water”,  “Biodiversity”, “Longleaf Pine in Virginia”, etc.

After retirement, I had three months of “family time” for acclimation and transition to the “non-workday world”. Luckily, that transition was easy and relatively effortless for me. After this short hiatus from full-time employment, I was approached and asked to consider the ACES program thru the National Experienced Workforce Solutions (NEW Solutions).

After due consideration, I agreed to the part-time employment opportunity afforded by that program (ACES). I have relished every minute of this opportunity and enjoy my varied roles as a conservationist, wildlife biologist, Longleaf Pine enthusiast, etc. Through these roles, I continue to work with the public. I feel  that  I can use my years  of experience to help NRCS assure  that  our valuable Natural Resources are given worthy consideration when landowners are  making land-use decisions that  fit their  planning goals.

Since working in the ACES program I have had the opportunity to be directly involved in Virginia’s efforts to restore the Early Successional Habitat so badly needed by the Bobwhite Quail and many other birds and animals. I have also been heavily involved in promoting the restoration of the Longleaf Pine ecosystem in Virginia. These declining species have always been of immense interest to me.

NRCS, through the ACES program, has afforded me the unequaled opportunity to help improve these habitats, improve myself and improve this world in which we must live and protect.