Dedicated Biologist Donna Work Receives Excellence Award for Conservation Efforts in Texas

Dedicated Biologist Donna Work Receives Excellence Award for Conservation Efforts in Texas

Donna Work, a dedicated Biologist IV with the Texas A&M Forest Service, was honored for her exceptional service in forestry and conservation efforts during the Texas A&M AgriLife Connect event on Thursday, January 11.

With 33 years of service and a significant role in red-cockaded woodpecker conservation in East Texas, Work received the Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence. Established in 1980, this awards program recognizes outstanding contributions to Texas A&M AgriLife.

Work began her career in 1990, addressing forest health concerns in the Forest Pest Management unit. Over the years, she transitioned to enhance Water Resources and Forest Stewardship Programs, focusing on conservation practices, biodiversity, and forest health.

A key aspect of Work’s success was building relationships with private landowners, loggers, and forestry entities. She championed conservation education throughout her career, ensuring the success of workshops developed in 1994.

Work’s impact extends beyond workshops; she publishes quarterly outreach newsletters and co-authors research publications. Notably, she manages the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker program, introducing breeding pairs to restored habitats since 1999.

Her involvement in the red-cockaded woodpecker Safe Harbor Program, directed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, includes educating the public, surveying land, and creating Safe Harbor Cooperative Agreements for landowners.

Gretchen Riley, Texas A&M Forest Service Forest Systems Department Head, praised Work’s expertise in maintaining and enhancing critical habitat, particularly for the red-cockaded woodpecker.

In addition to her role as a biologist, Work coordinates the Texas Forest Legacy program, sustaining working forests through voluntary cooperation between the USDA Forest Service and the State of Texas.

Work’s dedication earned her previous awards, including Forestry Educator of the Year (2012) and the D.A. “Andy” Anderson I & E Award (2004). In 2023, she was recognized for her involvement in the Virtually Wild! Texas program, receiving the Director’s Award for Team Effort.

Currently, Work represents the agency on wildlife-oriented committees and task forces, showcasing her ongoing commitment to natural resource conservation.