Great Blue Heron Initiatives

Steve’s Books

  • Book: Nature Based Leadership: Lessons for Living, Learning, Serving, and Leading (2016)
  • Book: Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017)
  • Book: Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday nature – co-author Dr. Jennifer J Wilhoit (2019)
  • Book: Harnessing Nature’s Wisdom and Inspiration – Under Review

Steve’s Great Blue Heron Blog Posts

  • See weekly Great Blue Heron Blog Post archives on this GBH website; some 130 to-date
  • All GBH blog posts appear on some dozen Facebook group pages (including IN-Nature; Alabama Foragers; Alabama Naturalists; Alabama Outdoor Adventurers; Flora of the Southeastern US; Southern Appalachian Flora and Ecsystematics; Environmental Education Association of Alabama; Alabama Nature Lovers; Nature Addicts; The Nature of Things; Sacred Connection — Earth, Animals, Spirit; and others)
  • Also, guest blog posts and articles as requested.

Steve’s Land Legacy Stories

  • Jasper Fly Nature Preserve — Maury County Tennessee (complete)
  • McDowell Camp and Conference Center — 1,140-acre property in Winston County, Alabama (active)
  • Dutton Farms — 1,100-acre farm and ranch in east-central Ohio (active)

Steve’s Great Blue Heron Boutique Consulting

  • Hampshire Unit School (Maury County Tennessee) School of Applied Science and Natural Resources, 2016-18. GBH assisted the Hampshire Unit School, Maury County, Tennessee, to transform to a premier K-12 school (a School of Applied Science and Natural Resources (Hampshire SASNR)) to become a global exemplar. Hampshire SASNR applies proven effective elements of place-, project-, and nature-based learning from K through 12, and across the curriculum with a focus on agricultural sciences and natural resources. The SASNR operates at the intersection of theory and practice and exemplifies a spirit of education that is purpose-driven and passion-fueled. GBH worked hand-in-hand with the School, the University of Tennessee project team, and the Project Advisory Council to fully incorporate nature-inspired learning and leading to Hampshire SASNR.
  • GBH advised and assisted a Huntsville, AL area, female minority-owned elder care enterprise (with a non-profit arm) to define, fund, and implement a DREAM for creating a globally significant integrated, life-span center. The Center will assure Living and Aging with Grace, Fulfillment, Joy, Dignity, and Purpose, 2016-18. We incorporated Nature’s Wisdom and Inspiration to enrich life. Nature is an elixir, a soothing agent of deep value. The literature is replete with evidence, whether the beneficiary of Vitamin N (Nature) ingestion is age six or 96, that Nature is rich with lessons for living, learning, serving, and leading. And that Nature is a fundamental positive influence for growing old with Grace, Fulfillment, Joy, Dignity, and Purpose. The Dream scenario is currently on hold for personal reasons.
  • Edu Alliance North America — Edu Alliance North America is an international higher education consulting firm with offices in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Bloomington, Indiana, United States of America. Dr. Jones is a founding member of the Edu Alliance North America Advisory Council. He brings his ecosystem perspective to enterprise health and vitality to the service of Edu Alliance clients. His belief that all lessons for living, learning, serving, and leading are written indelibly in or compellingly inspired by Nature introduces a novel approach to higher education institutions.

Steve’s Projects prior to Great Blue Heron:

Special Projects for the Forest Products Industry

Designed, Sited, Built, and Operated a state-of-the-art pine seedling production nursery in Alabama for Union Camp Corporation, 1983-84. The nursery produced 29 million seedlings fall 1984.

Performed Land Department Operations Audit across Union Camp Corporation’s Woodlands Division, involving 2.2 million acres of fee-owned lands in six states (VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, and AL). Presented comprehensive assessment and recommendations to Division Vice President.

Developed Union Camp Corporation Woodlands Division official Forest Management Practices Manual (1981).

Special Projects Within Higher Education

Urbana University Brand (2008) – Upon my arrival as president, I heard our own faculty and staff, only somewhat in jest, refer to Urbana University as a “university of last resort,” a sad and self-fulfilling characterization. The University had recently adopted a consultant-recommended tag line of “Building Solid Futures.” I observed that I had never been at a university not committed to building solid futures. I asked, what makes Urbana unique? Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and stakeholders revealed unquestionably that our small, personal, intimate, individually-focused atmosphere prevailed among the reasons given for our special identity. We changed the tag line to Building Solid Futures — One Student at a Time.

University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Brand (2004) – When I began my term as Chancellor, UAF enjoyed selected disciplinary acclaim, but lacked an institutional identity. Today, UAF is known widely across the US and internationally as America’s Arctic University, the result of a strategic move to establish identity, attract students and faculty, and secure additional philanthropic donations and competitive grants and contracts. I sought to deepen UAF’s international reputation. During my tenure (and for nearly a year beyond) I chaired the governing board, University of the Arctic, leading a circumpolar consortium of 111 entities, including 87 colleges and universities, with an aggregate of >750,000 students. The circumpolar community viewed UAF as the lead USA university for the 2007-09 International Polar Year (IPY). UAF faculty served as principal investigators on 28 percent of the internationally approved IPY projects. UAF hosted scores of IPY workshops, conferences, and tours (scientific, education, and diplomatic) during those two years in the international spotlight.

Sharpening the UAF Brand: Sorting Through Complexity (2004) – My initial reviews of UAF performance revealed that aggregating metrics for all of UAF, which had been the traditional practice, masked important trends and obscured the true picture. Instead, I found data analyses most useful when dis-aggregated to three distinguishable units:

  • The Land, Sea and Space Grant institution, a Carnegie-classified, doctoral, STEM-dominant, high research activity university, comprising colleges, schools and major research institutes based in Fairbanks and extending across the state.
  • The Tanana Valley Campus, a community college that serves the Fairbanks area and North Star Borough, focusing on college preparation, workforce development, and lifelong learning.
  • The College of Rural and Community Development, consisting of five community campuses and seven learning centers located throughout the state, addressing the workforce and lifelong educational needs of rural and Native Alaskans.
  • These three distinguishable units are in some ways independent, in other ways interdependent, and in many ways fully integrated. UAF offers certificates and associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees, as well as a wide range of non-credit courses. No other single university in the country is as multi-dimensional as UAF.

Leading a New Unit at NC State University: Office of Extension,
Engagement, and Economic Development (2001-2004) – I served as the inaugural Vice Chancellor EE&ED, thus launching a new university division. Major accomplishments included:

  • Created the H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Development Center, housed within the Office of Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development. General Shelton is former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and NC State alumnus.
  • Led an NC State team that secured funding from the WK Kellogg Foundation for a $3.7 million, five-year project to establish a National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges-designated, National Food System Leadership Institute at NC State.
  • Secured $36 million August 2003 to NC State from the North Carolina Golden LEAF Foundation for design, construction, and up-fit of a 90 K square feet Biotechnology Training and Education Center on Centennial Campus. A result of teamwork involving NC State, industry, the NC Community College System, North Carolina Central University, and the State Assembly. The NC Legislature pledged $5 million in annual operating funds for BTEC; funding has followed annually without fail.
  • Established the NC State Economic Development Partnership in February 2003.
  • Incorporated the formerly free-standing Capitol Region Small Business and Technology Development Center into NC State EE&ED.
  • Brought a struggling, privately operated Centennial Campus business incubator under EE&ED management. Comprising 47 incubator offices and ten wet labs, the Incubator sought to become a model business “accelerator,” closely linking the economic development and technology commercialization strengths of the University to new and spin-off companies.

First Director of the Federal Court-Decreed Alabama Cooperative Extension System (1996-2001) – Under my direction, ACES transitioned from a Court-created “solution” to a dynamic, viable system, evidencing solid accomplishments:

  • Unified the formerly separate and distinct extension services of the two universities, including budgets, personnel, programs, and field staff. Feelings of trust and progress replaced suspicion and stalemate.
  • Created a System Advisory Council.
  • Implemented a strategic planning process, the first for either program in more than ten years.
  • In partnership with the City of Birmingham, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and multiple other public and private partners, funded and created the 4,000 square foot C. Beatty Hanna Horticulture and Environmental Education Center, housed in the new education wing of the Botanical Gardens.
  • Established eight Urban Extension Centers and six Regional Research and Extension Centers.
  • Increased percentage of total budget attributable to grants and contracts from four to more than 15 percent in four years.
  • Implemented a $7 million campaign to expand the state 4-H Center.

Director Northeast Petroleum-Forest Resources Cooperative, State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry (1985-1987) – Served as the first Director of the newly established university-sponsored, inter-industry cooperative operating in southwest New York and northwest Pennsylvania. Dues-supported, the NEP-FRC offered research and education programs to the two industry sectors regarding issues creating conflicts on the ground, as both sectors managed and extracted their separately owned rights: valuable Allegheny hardwood timber by the forest industry; subsurface gas and oil by the mineral industry.

Special Projects Within State Government

Director, Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council (1994-95) – A part-time appointment while a Penn State faculty member, I served as Interim Director of the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council, a State Commerce Department-led entity to tap the economic development potential associated with Pennsylvania’s valuable hardwood forest resources. I reported to the Commerce Department Secretary.


BLOGS (1996 as ACES Director through Urbana University Presidency, 2013) – Although the term blog had net yet emerged, I distributed periodic messages (1-4 pages) via email to all employees (and the respective Boards). I wrote a Musings when the urge struck, occasionally prompted by critical issues affecting the organization, or when I had a thought I wanted to share, to include challenging, inspiring, and informing faculty and staff. Musings extend across my terms at ACES, NC State, UAF, and Urbana. I issued them every two to ten weeks. I have a complete hard copy file.


  • 42 scholarly refereed journal articles
  • Six book chapters or principal book editor/compiler
  • From 1984 through 1997, published extensively in magazines, newsletters, and other non-refereed outlets.
  • Forest Stewardship/Resource Sustainability – Authored or co-authored some 150 articles published in outlets such as American Forests, Pennsylvania Forests, National Woodlands, New York Forest Owner, and symposia proceedings.
  • Forest Based Economic Development – Seventeen articles in similar outlets.
  • Soil-Site Relationships – Seven articles in similar outlets.
  • Forest Taxation – Seven articles in similar outlets.
  • Miscellaneous – Ten articles in similar outlets
  • From 1984-97 – Authored or co-authored 12 in-house Penn State University publications on forest stewardship, forest taxation, and related
  • Eleven internal-use special reports and manuals. Prepared 1975-81 for Union Camp Corporation, including an 81p Forest Practices Manual.

Prior Consulting

  • Chair, President’s Outreach, Engagement, and Continuing Education Review Team, Mississippi State University, 2003.
  • Chair, President’s Commission on Outreach and Engagement, Oregon State University, 2007.

Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Applying Nature’s Wisdom to Enterprise Success


Great Blue Heron, LLC

Stephen B. Jones, PhD
(Applied Ecology)

CEO Great Blue Heron, LLC
Nature Inspired Learning and Leading

Nature Based Leadership Institute Founder

Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading Author

Former CEO Fairmont State University; Antioch University New England; Urbana University; University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Former University of the Arctic Board Chair

213 Legendwood Drive NW
Madison, AL 35757
(603) 903-9575