Meet the Commissioner

Greg Johnson, Commissioner

Commissioner Gregory Johnson is a lifetime hunter, angler and outdoorsman. He is the eighth commissioner in the department’s 70-year history.

A 1979 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) with a Bachelor of Science Degree in wildlife management and minors in fisheries biology and chemistry, the Commissioner had a distinguished career for 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.

Commissioner Johnson 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.

He 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 Kentucky. 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 2011. 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,” states the Commissioner, “I am excited to be a part of that. Our Department’s wildlife and fisheries successes are well recognized among professionals everywhere, and I am looking forward to continually build 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 girl’s basketball coach. His son, Ryan, is a University of Kentucky police officer.