Texas A&M AgriLife has awarded Joel Hambright, Regional Forester for Texas A&M Forest Service, the 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence for Public Service in Forestry.
The award was presented Jan. 7 at the AgriLife Conference on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.
Hambright has worked with Texas A&M Forest Service for more than 25 years, rising through the ranks to Regional Forester and currently leads five agency districts, eight professional foresters and 45 employees across 18 Southeast Texas counties.
Regarded by his peers as innovative and solution-driven, over his career Hambright has developed several new, cutting-edge programs for the agency.
East Texas Operations Department Head Wes Moorehead recognizes the contribution Hambright has made to forestry over his career. “Joel’s innovative approaches, depth of knowledge and commitment to the TFS mission has caused positive impacts to ripple through the forestry community and can clearly be seen throughout his tenure.”
Internal and integral to the organization, Hambright pioneered the Texas A&M Forest Service Mentor Program by which institutional knowledge and practical experience is transferred from senior employees to new and developing employees. This program has helped bridge a critical gap created by a relatively large number of new employees entering into the agency.
Similarly devising a solution to and identified challenge, as the crime of timber theft began to occur more frequently in recent years, foresters needed a consistent and accurate means of estimating the volume and value of the stolen timber. Hambright helped standardize formulas, procedures and training for foresters as well as better prepare personnel for potential depositions.
Externally, after learning about changing forest landowner demographics and objectives, Hambright’s vision led to the creation of the Texas Forest Expo, an event designed to help new landowners and the general public learn about trees, forests and natural resources. This event later partnered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Lone Star College and AgriLife Extension to establish the highly successful and influential Texas Wildlife and Woodland Expo. The Expo is currently in its 10th year, reaching approximately 10,000 people a year.
One of the technical services provided by the state agency to Texas landowners is helping each, one-on-one, to develop a land management plan. This is a detailed and complex process and resulting document. Hambright developed a first-ever forest management plan workshop where landowners draft their own plans according to their own goals assisted by the oversight and expertise of agency or private consulting foresters. This enables more landowners at a time to better plan for and manage their forestland.
Hambright recognizes the value in actively participating in professional and conservation organizations. He regularly supports and delivers programs of the Texas Forestry Association and Texas Society of American Foresters. He has organized numerous county landowner association meetings, enrolled countless landowners in the Tree Farm Program, and facilitated many Project Learning Tree and Teachers’ Conservation Institute sessions to train current and future teachers on natural resources in a way that aligns with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum. He has also served as the Professional Recognition Chair for TSAF for over 15 years, recognizing the accomplishments of professionals and students in the field of forestry.
“Joel’s career has been a testament to what public service in forestry should look like,” said Moorehead. “He truly puts service before self, and people recognize that.”
The Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence were established in 1980 to recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions of faculty and staff across Texas A&M AgriLife and provide opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those honored. Learn more at https://agrilifeawards.tamu.edu.
Photo attached. From left to right: Patrick Stover, Vice Chancellor and Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Joel Hambright Regional Forester with Texas A&M Forest Service, Tom Boggus, State Forester and Director of Texas A&M Forest Service