Photo by Layne Adams

About Jeff Keay

Jeff (pronounced Kay) earned his Master of Science and Doctorate degrees in wildlife resources from the University of Idaho. He worked for 20 years as a field biologist conducting management and research operations in Yosemite and Denali National Parks. He then moved into research management for the U.S. Geological Survey in both research science centers and regional offices where he learned through education and firsthand experiences his passion for leadership. Jeff was asked to become part of the USGS training cadre where he taught leadership, team-building, and mentoring nationally. His depth of caring and compassion for others, his commitment to do what is right, and his ability to see and focus on the big picture, all the while effectively managing details, made him a talented and successful science manager and executive. He now shares his talents and experiences in his writing, consulting, and volunteer services.

A Fuller Resume

Wildlife Biologist

Jeff began his wildlife career working on a Master of Science degree at the University of Idaho studying the effects of forest fires on white-tailed and mule deer. His research in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness analyzed the effects of the U.S. Forest Service’s first prescribed natural fire. As a research Associate for the University of Idaho Jeff also directed a wildlife habitat inventory on Bureau of Land Management holdings in northern Idaho.

Beginning in 1978 he spent 12 years working for the U.S. National Park Service in Yosemite National Park where he directed the black bear management program, reintroduced bighorn sheep, guided Peregrine Falcon recovery, and served on an interagency team coordinating deer management. While in Yosemite, Jeff completed a Ph.D. through the University of Idaho on black bear population dynamics.
In late 1990 Jeff and his family moved to Denali National Park in Alaska where he studied grizzly bear population ecology for the next eight years. He also supervised the study of vehicle impacts on Dall’s sheep migration across the Denali Park road. Jeff was transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey while in Alaska.

At the completion of his grizzly bear research and always ready for the next adventure, Jeff moved to the USGS Eastern Region Biology Office as a staff biologist in 1999.

Leader and Supervisor

Working in the USGS Eastern Region Biology Office in Leetown, West Virginia, Jeff took several leadership classes from the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the USGS. He served stints as Chief of Research at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, and as Deputy Center Director in the West Fisheries Research Center in Seattle, Washington.
His next career move was to Florida where he served on the leadership team to create the first USGS integrated science center composed of biology, geology, and water resources expertise. He supervised both biology and water resources programs and experienced leadership challenges first hand. He also completed the second premier USGS leadership course, and became part of the USGS instructor cadre teaching classes on leadership and mentoring across the nation.
He finished his federal career serving as Deputy Regional Director in the USGS Pacific Regional Office, Sacramento, California. There he supervised several scientific research centers with expertise in geology, water resources, and geography and continued to facilitate interdisciplinary science. His leadership skills and experiences helped him resolve several internal issues and build critical partnerships with other state and federal agencies. He retired from USGS in 2015.

Photo by Judy Keay


Jeff’s outdoor experiences and passion for helping others blended with opportunities to share personal experiences in a way that teach values and principles. His bear stories became a hit with his children who began passing them along to their kids and Jeff realized the need to write them down. His first writings followed his scientific training and were dry and boring to casual readers so Jeff began taking creative non-fiction writing classes and studying the works of others. Now a passionate writer Jeff has published some of his stories and is crafting many more.
Jeff continues to build on his biological training by volunteering to assist with other science projects and of course his own personal observations and studies. Hiking, backpacking, and canoeing provide tremendous opportunities and adventures generating even more personal experiences and perspectives. He’s always on the look-out for the next great adventure and story to tell.


Besides his obvious passion for wildlife and the outdoors, Jeff enjoys helping others through consulting, and loves to guide and mentor others. He discovered universal truths in life that transcend career choices and can apply to everyone.
From 2013 through 2017 Jeff served on the Project Advisory Board for a major interdisciplinary research project titled Managing Idaho Landscapes. Conducted jointly by the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, and Boise State University, MILES examined the critical relationship between ecosystem services and medium sized communities. The program sought to find solutions to challenging environmental, social, economic, and political issues.
During 2018 Jeff served on an ad hoc committee for Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative to resolve important bylaws questions related to board member elections. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Fall River Electric and also for Fall River Propane.

Photo by Hans Veth on Unsplash

Living in grizzly bear country near Yellowstone National Park, Jeff has become engaged in the never-ending battle to secure food and trash from bears to promote both human and bear safety. His unique experience working with both nuisance black bears and naturally regulated grizzly bears provide him a deep understanding of the issues facing rural communities with increasing bear populations. His lectures and consulting services to private and government groups have been well received.

On a Personal Note

Family & Faith

Jeff now lives with his wife in southeast Idaho near Yellowstone National Park where they spend many hours enjoying wildlife and the exquisite beauty of rural Idaho. He and his wife Judy raised 6 children, none of whom became biologists, much to Jeff’s chagrin, but all are avid conservationists and outdoors people. Although scattered around the country his children and grandchildren love to gather frequently and are always embarking on new adventures.

Their many years of living rurally taught Judy and Jeff how to prepare for emergencies. Recognizing the importance of and challenges with communication in mountainous Idaho, should the power go out, they were instrumental in the creation of the Island Park Ham Radio Club. Both have FCC amateur radio licenses and enjoy helping to build an emergency communication capability for their community.

Jeff always believed in God and Jesus Christ but it wasn’t until his lifelong sweetheart, Judy, introduced him to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he came to understand deity and their crucial role in our lives. A deeply religious person, Jeff believes his greatest purpose and achievements in life are helping others become the very best people they can be, whether or not their beliefs are similar to his.