Veteran Forester is awarded Board of Regents Fellow Service Award

    James Rooni Family Board of Regents Fellow Service Award 2

    Jan. 17, 2019 — COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents have recognized James B. Rooni of Texas A&M Forest Service as a 2017-2018 Regents Fellow Service Award recipient.

    Rooni was one of seven system employees recognized Wednesday evening at a presentation ceremony among the TAMUS Board of Regents at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center in College Station.

    “These outstanding individuals are doing incredible work on behalf of the A&M System and the entire state of Texas,” said A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “They exemplify the values and commitment to excellence that define the A&M System and I am grateful for their dedication.”

    Hired by the state agency in 1997, Rooni has spent the last 21 years providing leadership and service to the citizens of Texas in all areas of forestry, including developing self-sustaining municipal community forestry programs to delivering direct technical support and education to private landowners. He is an integral leader in the fight against Oak Wilt and as such is personally responsible for conserving and protecting thousands of high-value trees. 

    “Jim is held in high regard by his colleagues as ‘the’ subject matter expert for the prevention and suppression of oak wilt,” said Bill Oates, Associate Director for Texas A&M Forest Service. “He is also an unselfish public servant with a mission to protect the health of our vast forest resources.”

    Rooni has managed complex agency response and recovery efforts to several natural disasters. For example, in 2011, Texas experienced the worst drought and wildfire season in recorded history, to include the most costly wildfire in the state’s history destroying more than 1,600 homes and taking the lives of two Texans and nearly two million trees. Rooni helped organize twelve public, private and non-profit organizations into one cohesive group — The Lost Pines Recovery Team. As a result, more than four million seedlings were planted within the Bastrop County Complex fire footprint.

    Since2009, Rooni has developed the Central Texas Conservation Partnership Initiative, a collaborative effort supported by other agencies and entities, which has led to over 40 regional workshops designed for interface landowners in rapidly growing counties in central Texas. To date, the CTCP effort has leveraged nearly 2.2 million dollars in matching USDA-SPF grants in support of these programs.

    Rooniworked to advance the Central Texas Restoration and Recovery Program. This effort supports reforestation programs by providing landowners with seedlings grown at the West Texas Nursery that will thrive in Central Texas. Since 2005, the nursery has distributed nearly ten-thousand custom seedlings to landowners in Central Texas. 

    Due to continual decline in the traditional bare-root conservation seedling market, Texas A&M Forest Service has worked to create new products for new markets. Rooni established the West Texas Nursery Contract Grow Program. Since 2008, the West Texas Nursery has been providing public and private clients with custom grow contracts for special projects throughout Texas.  

    Also notable is his forest recovery work in protecting and restoring the unique ponderosa pine species around the Davis Mountains, and reforesting areas devastated by the Blanco River flooding in spring 2015.

    “The success of these restoration projects would not have happened without Jim’s leadership skills,” said Oates. “I’ve not seen anyone better at building relationships and leveraging the resources with our collaborators.”

    The Board established the Regents Professor Awards program in 1996 and the Regents Fellow Service Awards program in 1998 to recognize employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas.


    Photo: Jim Rooni, his wife, Kate Rooni, and their daughter, Mae Rooni, attend the presentation ceremony at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center in College Station, Texas, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019.


    Texas A&M Forest Service Communications 979-458-6606,