Employee Testimonials

Jason Jones

Jason Jones, Resource Specialist IV

Jason Jones serves as a Resource Specialist IV for Texas A&M Forest Service in Northeast Texas. He began his career with the agency in 1999 as a seasonal firefighter, and within a year was hired on full-time to work as part of the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program. After he finished working for the program in 2004, Jones waited patiently until a position opened in Linden in 2009 as a Resource Specialist I, and over the last 13 years, has worked his way up to a level IV specialist within the agency. Read about a week in the life for Jones here: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/WeekInTheLife/Jones.aspx

Matt Wright

Matt Wright, Fire Training Coordinator

After obtaining a forestry degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2006, my first position with Texas A&M Forest Service was strictly forestry related, and I was not involved with firefighting. In 2009, I moved into a District Forester role, which involved forestry as well as wildfire and emergency response. That was when I really learned about firefighting, and it was the first exposure I ever had to it. I gained experience in that position, especially during the fire season of 2011. I moved into the Fire Training Coordinator position in July 2014 – offering me the opportunity to step up within the agency and take on new challenges. I get to interact with and help everyone in our agency with their training needs. I also get to work alongside them on the fireline or during other emergency response operations. I love my job, the services this agency provides, and I hope to continue working and serving the great state of Texas.

Rich Gray

Rich Gray, Assistant Chief Regional Fire Coordinator

I am a forester dedicated to my career, and have chosen the pathway of wildland firefighting. A few factors influenced this decision in my life: my childhood love of the outdoors, the mentorship of natural resource managers, my love of fire, service to others and care of the environment. This agency is a highly reliable organization that is mission and goal driven, and offers me so many of those things that have built a satisfying career.

Wes Moorehead

Wes Moorehead, East Texas Operations Department Head

I began working at Texas A&M Forest Service in Jasper, where I worked with the Forest Inventory and Analysis program for 18 months. I then was promoted to district forester, spending three years in Jasper and another four in Marshall. I moved to regional forester in Nacogdoches and in 2012 was honored to be named Head of East Texas Operations.

I graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in forest management and a minor in international business. After graduation, I worked in the urban forestry arena outside of Austin and worked closely with the Texas A&M Forest Service. I saw the can-do, servant attitude that the agency displayed and thought to myself, ‘Those are people I want to work with.’ Now it’s been nearly 18 years.

Karen Stafford

Karen Stafford, Program Leader

A staff forester and program leader for the Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation program, I have been with Texas A&M Forest Service about 18 years. I began my career as a seasonal firefighter in 2000 and continued the work through college. I graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in forestry and a minor in general business, and earned a master’s degree in forestry in 2010.

The pride I feel in my job has only intensified upon working here and meeting with so many partner organizations and seeing the resulting, positive projects and stories with which Texas A&M Forest Service is associated.

I wanted to work for the Texas A&M Forest Service because I wanted to work somewhere where I could make a difference in people's lives. I love the services the agency provides to the citizens of Texas, and I love knowing that I am a part of something bigger than myself.

Todd Nightingale

Todd Nightingale, District Forester

I joined Texas A&M Forest Service as a Staff Forester in Crockett in 1997 and was promoted in 2006 to district forester, which is the position I currently hold. I attended Texas A&M University, and earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry.

Upon graduation, I was considering several industry jobs, but turned them all down because I knew Texas A&M Forest Service was the place I was meant to be. The careers at Texas A&M Forest Service allow you to truly impact lives through out service in sustained stewardship and protection of the land and people of Texas for the benefit of all.

“I love the work,” Nightingale said. “There is where God wants me to be.”

Jason Keiningham

Jason Keiningham, Capacity Building Department Head

I started with Texas A&M Forest Service in 2004 as a regional fire coordinator, and was promoted to Capacity Building program coordinator in 2010. I also served eight years as a volunteer firefighter for the Bellmead Fire Department and two years as a volunteer for the Lacy-Lakeview Fire Department.

I strive to represent the agency professionally in all dealings, always being fair and open to others’ opinions. I try to foster a team environment within the Texas A&M Forest Service family and serve the tax payers and they would expect to be served, pushing forward the agency’s goals and seizing every moment possible to help Texas residents.

I’ve always had a passion for volunteerism, especially helping volunteer fire departments. I believe strongly in the mission of protecting life and property. I’ll do whatever it takes to help my brothers and sisters in the fire service to be successful.

Mike Sills

Mike Sills, Regional Urban Forester

In January of 2017, I joined the Texas A&M Forest Service family as the Regional Urban Forester in the Dallas office. My dad was an engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration and he passed his love and appreciation for the art and science aviation down to me. In 1997, I started flying airplanes myself and within a year had earned a private pilot’s license.

I was introduced to the idea of drones for arboriculture in 2015 at the Texas Tree Conference in Waco. One avenue to flying a drone commercially is by obtaining a Private Pilot’s License, keeping endorsements current in the aircraft one is certified to operate, and taking and online courses to receive a certificate for operating small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS.) I passed a bi-annual flight review in the fall 2016, took the online course, and passed the exam. Now I’m able to combine my passion of aviation and arboriculture.

Working in this field has opened doors of opportunity for me in both my professional and personal lives. In May 2017, retired but still passionate about aviation, my dad asked me to pick out a plane from his already-marked-up “Trade-A-Plane” magazine. I picked out a little Cessna 150 and in June we made a weekend trip to Bethany, MO to check out its log books. We bought it and a month later I flew the 150 home—six hundred miles to the Midlothian-Waxahachie Municipal Airport—with my dad driving a few recent hours of flight time under my belt. After forty years of pursing owning an airplane, my dad had finally done it!