HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Life lessons learned through nature prompted former Urbana University president Dr. Stephen Jones to write a series of books on the topic.
Jones’ first book, “Nature Based Leadership: Lessons for Living, Learning, Serving and Leading,” is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Jones left Urbana University to become president at Antioch University New England in 2013. When Antioch University decided to consolidate its administrative roles and Jones – along with the four other campus presidents and the boards of trustees at the other branches – was let go, he decided to semi-retire. Though not in university administration anymore, Jones now owns Steve Jones Great Blue Heron Consulting and writes books.
The books are a collection of essays Jones developed over the years. He said he began writing in 2011 the essays that are now part of the book. Once he had more free time, he was able to finish writing the book and start the next one.
The essays are more like what people would call “blogs” – online compositions by an author. The essays represent a series of lessons Jones took from experiences in nature, he said.
“Over the course of my life and career, it began to sink in more and more deeply,” he said. “Life on this planet has been around for 2.5 billion years or so. Nature has learned the tough lessons through practice and applied them through evolution. I came to believe earnestly that every lesson for living, for learning, for serving and for leading is either written indelibly in nature or is powerfully inspired by nature.”
Jones’ love of nature grew from his upbringing. He grew up in the mountains of western Maryland in a blue-collar family whose idea of eating out “was literally eating outside, picnicking, camping, that kind of thing.”
From forestry to administration
Jones said he knew upon graduating from high school he wanted to get into forestry. He received a bachelor’s degree in forestry and a doctoral degree in applied ecology. He worked in the forestry industry for years before moving into education administration.
“I always thought of myself as a forester who just happened to get into higher education administration,” he said.
Jones also previously worked at Auburn University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, North Carolina State University and Alabama A&M University.
“I’ve had a passion for nature and been a naturalist all my life,” he said. “Now I can get back and get my hands dirty again.”
Jones, now 65, plans to continue writing and offering guidance through his consulting business. He lives near Huntsville, Alabama. The consulting business offers assistance to organizations to care for the planet while maintaining a healthy bottom line.
“I passionately believe we need to better care for this orb that we occupy, and it gets tougher and tougher with each half-billion or billion people we add,” he said. “My consulting is a spinoff and complement to my writing. What we’re trying to do with my consulting work is work with entities to better understand their place on the planet and their obligation to be good earth stewards.”
Jones plans to continue to write and to enjoy life and time with his family.
The first book is available for purchase now at Amazon.com. Jones’ second book in the series is in editing, and a third book is about 80 percent complete, he said.
For more information, visit stevejonesgbh.com or bookstore.liferichpublishing.com.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.