bobwhite_standingThe National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the unified strategic effort of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies and various conservation organizations—all under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee—to restore wild populations of bobwhite quail in this country to levels comparable to 1980.

The first such effort, in 2002, was a paper-based plan by the Southeastern Quail Study Group under the umbrella of Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. That plan, termed the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, attracted considerable attention around the country, including that of the other states in the bobwhite quail range. The result was a broad expansion of the effort and a revision of the plan (and the Southeastern Quail Study Group itself, now the National Bobwhite Technical Committee) to include 25 states in the bobwhite’s core range.

Today, NBCI is a multi-faceted initiative characterized by key elements:

  1. an easily updated, online strategic (NBCI 2.0) plan released in March 2011
  2. a massive and easily updated online Geographic Information System (GIS)-based conservation tool to help state biologists and other conservation planners identify and achieve individual state objectives within the overall national strategy, also released in March 2011. (Over 600 biologists within the bobwhite’s range participated in building this conservation tool.)
  3. The NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP) to help states adapt the national strategy to the local level
  4. A small team of specialists in grasslands, forestry, government, communications and research to work at regional and national levels to identify opportunities and remove obstacles to bobwhite restoration

NBCI Principles

  1. Working lands habitats
    • Bobwhites and grassland birds can be increased and sustained on working public and private lands across their range by improving and managing native grassland and early successional habitats, accomplished through modest, voluntary adjustments in how humans manage rural land.
  2. Landscape-scale habitat problem
    • Long-term, widespread population declines for bobwhites and grassland birds arise predominantly from subtle but significant landscape-scale changes occurring over several decades in how humans use and manage rural land.
  3. Stewardship responsibility
    • Reversing long-term, widespread population declines of wild bobwhites, associated grassland birds and the native grassland ecosystems in which they thrive is an important wildlife conservation objective and an overdue stewardship responsibility.
  4. Heritage
    • Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) are a traditional and valued part of our nation’s cultural, rural, hunting and economic heritage.  Widespread restoration of huntable populations of wild quail will have myriad positive societal benefits for individuals and families, rural communities, cultures and economies.
  5. Inter-jurisdictional responsibilities
    • State wildlife agencies bear legal authority and leadership responsibility for bobwhite conservation, while migratory grassland birds legally are a legal co-responsibility with the federal government; however, the vast majority of actual and potential grassland bird habitats is privately owned.
  6. Partnerships and collaboration
    • Restoration success depends on a comprehensive network of deliberate, vigorous and sustained collaboration with land owners and managers by state, federal and local governments as well as by corporate, non-profit, and individual private conservationists.
  7. Strategic approach
    • Success requires a long-term, range-wide strategic campaign combined with coordinated, effective action at all levels of society and government, to create a public movement to address conservation policy barriers and opportunities that have the needed landscape-scale influences.
  8. Adaptive management
    • Adaptive resource management principles will inform and increase the efficiency of restoration and management and to satisfy multi-resource and multi-species needs.
  9. Long-term challenge
    • Following a half-century of decline, landscape-scale restoration of bobwhite and grassland bird habitats and populations across their range will require determined and sustained conservation leadership, priority, funding and focus for decades to come.

NBCI Management Board/Executive Committee

The NBCI Management Board provides a seat for each state wildlife director (or designee) and is the primary source of policy guidance for NBCI. The board meets twice each year, at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in the spring and at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies annual meeting in the fall. Members of the board’s executive committee are:


Paul Johansen, Chief
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Section

Other Members

J.D. Strong, Director
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Dave Golden, Acting Director
New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

Dr. Don Hodges, Department Head
University of Tennessee, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries


Dr. Pat Keyser
Interim Director
2431 Joe Johnson Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996
Office: (865) 974-0644

Dr. Pat Keyser is a Professor at the University of Tennessee and Director for the Center for Native Grasslands Management (CNGM). Additionally, he is serving as the Interim Director for NBCI. Dr. Keyser received a B.S. in Forestry from Virginia Tech, an M.S. in Wildlife from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Clemson University. As Director of CNGM, he has worked closely with NBCI for several years. Dr. Keyser provides regional and national leadership in the development and implementation of research and outreach programs focused on a broad range of issues pertinent to the management of native grasslands. This includes work on the use of native grasses in forage production systems for livestock, answering specific management questions for native grasses, restoration of natural grassland communities such as woodlands and savannas, and wildlife responses to native grasslands management. 

Jef L. Hodges
NBCI Grassland Coordinator
Certified Wildlife Biologist®
382 NW Hwy 18
Clinton, MO 64735
Cell: (660) 351-2766

Jef Hodges is NBCI’s grasslands coordinator. Jef grew up in the Osage Plains of west central Missouri where a majority of his formative outdoor experiences occurred. It is through this association his passion for grasslands and associated wildlife was nurtured. Jef lives on a farm his family has owned since the early '70s. He has 2 children and 2 grandchildren. A certified wildlife biologist, Hodges has a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri and worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation in native grass restoration as a plant manager and marketer with a native seed company in Missouri, as a regional director and biologist (covering Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin) with the now-defunct Quail Unlimited conservation group, and owner/manager of his own company, Total Resource Management, LLC. He is a certified technical service provider by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), serves on the NRCS State Technical Committee in Missouri, the Missouri Prescribed Fire Council and is a member of the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Quail Forever, the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Quality Deer Management Association. Jef enjoys game bird hunting with his Britney spaniel, turkey and duck hunting, as well as photography and motorcycle riding.

Steve Chapman
NBCI Forestry Coordinator
Georgia Registered Forester
Certified Forester®
1666 Pine Valley Road
Milledgeville, GA 31061
Cell: (478) 451-9114

Steve Chapman is the Forestry Coordinator for the NBCI. Steve is a GA Registered Forester and a Society of American Foresters Certified Forester. Prior to joining NBCI, Steve worked as a consulting forester after retiring from the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) in 2013. Steve has a B.S. in Forest Resources from the D.B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. Steve continues to be active in the Society of American Foresters where he currently serves as the Chair-elect of the Georgia Division. Steve is married and has one daughter. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and being outside.

Molly Foley
NBCI Data Analyst

Molly Foley is NBCI’s data analyst, handling quail population and habitat data across the participating states. Molly received her B.S. in Wildlife Management from University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point in 2014 and her Master of Geographic Information Science and Technology from North Carolina State University in 2016. Throughout her college career, she was an active member of her university’s chapter of The Wildlife Society, participating in and leading multiple projects on saw-whet owls, ruffed grouse, and porcupines. Her seasonal work also includes a vast foray of natural resources management activities, ranging from prescribed burnings and invasives removal to radio-telemetry studies on a wide variety of species. In her down time, she enjoys hiking, reading about all things herpetology, and running her dog in multiple dog sports such as K9 nosework and barn hunt.
John Doty

John Doty
NBCI Communications Director
274 Ellington Plant Sciences Bldg.
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996
Office: (865) 974-7281
Cell: (865) 712-2895

John Doty is NBCI's Communications Director, managing NBCI’s web and social media presence as well as media relations and communications strategies. He has an undergraduate degree in journalism and professional experience in daily newspaper reporting, editing and publishing, subscription-based magazine publishing (both established and start-up), natural resource PR and communications in the federal sector, freelance writing and photography, and corporate communications for start-up entities. He is a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, and a member and past president of both the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and the Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, fly fishing, shooting, boating, kayaking, and living on the shores of Norris Lake near Knoxville, TN with his wife, Carol.