Paul Wesley Johnson

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Paul Wesley Johnson
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Born(1941-06-10)June 10, 1941
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Writer
  • Policymaker
  • Environmentalist

Paul Wesley Johnson (born 10 June 1941[1]) is an American writer, policymaker, and environmentalist.

In the early 1960s he served in the Peace Corps' Ghana 2 contingent, teaching sheet metal and auto mechanics in the Volta Region. In the later 1960s he taught in Ghana again, this time at the Sunyani Forestry School for the Teachers for West Africa Program.

In the late 1960s he did graduate work on Cordia alliodora[2] at what is now the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center in Turrialba, Costa Rica.

In the early 1970s he did doctoral work in (and taught) forestry at the School of Natural Resources of the University of Michigan.

In the 1980s he served three two-year terms in the Iowa House of Representatives[1], helping to author, manage, and secure passage of a number of bills supporting soil and water conservation and energy efficiency[3]. One of these bills created and provided financing for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Iowa. In the 1990s he served[4] in the Clinton Administration as Chief of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) of the US Department of Agriculture under Secretaries Mike Espy and Dan Gilman. He further nudged US federal governmental farm policy toward paying farmers to be stewards of the land. While he headed it, the SCS was renamed the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

In the early 2000s he served as head of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources[5] under Governor Tom Vilsack.

In 2004 he unsuccessfully ran for the US House of Representatives[6].

He also served on the Board on Agriculture[7] of the National Academy of Sciences as well as on the boards of a number of environmental and conservation organizations (e.g. the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Winneshiek Energy District, and Iowa's Environmental Protection Commission.

Since his retirement, he has lived on his northeast-Iowa family farm Oneota Slopes and written essays for the Iowa progressive news site Bleeding Heartland.

His wife Pat Johnson taught social work at Luther College. He has three children and six grandchildren.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "State Representative". Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  2. "A review of Cordia alliodora (Ruiz & Pav.) Oken". 1972. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  3. "Leopold Center at Iowa State University Presents Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture". College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  4. "Congressional Record Senate Articles". Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  5. "Pro H2O to Honor Iowa Conservation Leaders - Iowa Environmental Council". Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  6. "Iowa's 4th Congressional District". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  7. Read "Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education in the Field: A Proceedings" at

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