BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Texas A&M Forest Service’s John Hawkins received the 2020 Forest Stewardship Program Field Forester Award from the USDA Forest Service in Birmingham, Alabama today.
The award was presented at the Southern Group of State Foresters Summer Meeting. The award recognizes a forester who has worked to preserve, protect and enhance private forestlands through the Forest Stewardship and Rural Forestry Assistance programs.
“The Forest Stewardship Program is a vital resource for private landowners, who own approximately 86% of forested land in the South,” said Scott Phillips, Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF) Chair and South Carolina State Forester. “It is important to recognize those who go above and beyond, so SGSF is proud to have hosted the FSP award presentation to Mr. Hawkins, who exemplifies a spirit of service to southern forest owners.”
Hawkins has spent his career assisting rural private landowners in achieving sustainable management of their forestlands throughout Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. As District Forester in New Boston, Texas, during the past year, Hawkins has written 25 Forest Stewardship Plans on almost 3,492 acres, as well as provided 907 other assists to landowners. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawkins was able to find ways to continue providing conservation education programs and assisting landowners with their forest management needs.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege for me to present the Forest Stewardship Program Field Forester Award to John Hawkins with Texas A&M Forest Service,” said Jan Davis, Deputy Regional Forester for USDA Forest Service. “John has demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation in promoting Forest Stewardship Programs and providing rural forestry technical assistance to landowners, communities, and the public. This award represents yet another symbol of the partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the Southern Group of State Foresters working together to advance mutual priorities and deliver services across all landscapes.”
Hawkins is active in the prescribed fire community and serves a lead role in prescribed burning on most of the federal lands in his district. These areas include Army Corp of Engineer properties, National Guard facilities and other military instillations. He uses these burns to promote healthy and sustainable ecosystems and to train local volunteer and agency firefighters.
“John personifies the word ‘service’ in Texas A&M Forest Service and he will go out of his way to ensure landowners get the help they need,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Stewardship Program Leader Shane Harrington. “I couldn’t be more proud of the work John and his staff do and this award is just a small thank you on behalf of the agency and landowners he serves.”