Walter E. Jeske, 51, an official of the Agriculture Department's Soil Conservation Service who was active in professional and volunteer organizations, died Sunday at Arlington Hospital after a heart attack. He was a resident of Arlington.

He had been chief editor in the Soil Conservation Service's publications branch since joining the agency in 1965. An authority on environmental education, he had chaired the subcommittee on that subject in the Federal Interagency Committee on Education (FICE). He also had been a delegate to the United Nations conference on environmental education held in the Soviet Union in 1977.

Mr. Jeske was a member of the board and the executive committee of the Alliance for Environmental Education, and a member of the board of the National Association for Environmental Education. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of its governing committee on agriculture.

He was chairman of the American Vocational Association's national advisory council on agricultural education and a member of the advisory committee of Ohio State University's School of Natural Resources.

He was chairman of the D.C. chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. He was a member of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, a national partner in the 4-H Clubs of America and a member of the U.S. Commission for UNESCO.

Mr. Jeske was born in South Dakota and grew up there and in Iowa. He earned a bachelor's degree in vocational agriculture at Iowa State University and received a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1970. He taught school in Iowa and spent five years with the Soil Conservation Society of America there. He became assistant executive secretary of the organization before moving here.

He was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alexandria.

Survivors include his wife, the former Carol Beth Ahrens, of Arlington; his mother, Esther T. Jeske, of Eldora, Iowa; a brother, Robert, of Ankeny, Iowa; three sisters, Carolyn DeNeui, of Rockwell City, Iowa, Norma Hesterman, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., and Avis Ingersoll, of Shellsburg, Iowa.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the memorial fund in his name at the Soil Conservation Society of America or a Lutheran charity.