Veteran AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist at San Angelo retires – but not for long

Writer: Steve Byrns, 325-653-4576,

Contact: Dr. Dale Rollins, 325-653-4576,


SAN ANGELO – Dr. Dale Rollins, veteran Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service wildlife specialist at San Angelo, retires from full-time service to the agency effective Aug. 31, but his leisure days will be short-lived.

That’s because, effective Sept.1, he’ll head-up AgriLife Extension’s newly funded statewide  ‘Reversing the Decline of Quail’ initiative, a $2 million-dollar effort aimed at stemming the years-long loss of native wild quail in Texas. He will also expand his duties as director of the privately owned and funded Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation, centered on a 4,720-acre  property near Roby that is also dedicated to preserving wild quail.

“We are excited that Dr. Rollins has agreed to extend his appointment with AgriLife Extension to assume the role of state program coordinator for the Texas Quail Restoration Initiative,” said Dr. Doug Steele AgriLife Extension director, College Station. “Dale will provide leadership to implementing applied research projects, support with Exceptional Item funding from the 83 rd Texas State legislature, as well has continue his current research projects that have established his national reputation for his work with quail.”

“Serving as an AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist for the past 26 years here in San Angelo, has provided me with many personal and professional highlights” Rollins said. “I cannot imagine working in a better area or with better people.”

Dr. Dale Rollins and "Doc." (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Dale Rollins and “Doc.” (Courtesy photo)

Rollins earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Southwestern Oklahoma State University at Weatherford in 1977, a master’s degree in wildlife ecology from Oklahoma State University at Stillwater in 1980 and a doctorate in range science from Texas Tech University in 1983.

He began his Extension career as a range specialist with Oklahoma State University in 1983. He accepted his current position in 1987 and established the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch Foundation, becoming its director in 2007.

Rollins may be best known by many for his establishment of the Texas Brigades, a series of youth camps, each centering around one of several game animals and stressing leadership, responsibility and proper wildlife management. The original Bobwhite Brigade, which just completed its 21st year, was his original effort. The list has grown to include a total of seven of the week-long camps held each summer at various locations throughout the state. The camps have been recognized on both the state and national levels, and similar camps using the Brigades blueprint have been adopted in three other states.

Rollins said he will continue to be involved in the Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade.

“This is my most motivational week of the year, and I always need an infusion of inspiration from these young people,” he said.

Since 1989 Rollins has maintained a 25-percent split appointment with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, with quail ecology as the primary focus of his efforts. He’s also been active in mentoring graduate students and has chaired or co-chaired 16 graduate student committees while headquartered in San Angelo. He holds adjunct faculty status at Angelo State University, Sul Ross State University, Texas A&M-Kingsville and Texas Tech, as well as holding the academic rank of professor at Texas A&M University.

He has held numerous agency and industry leadership posts and has garnered many awards and honors throughout his career on the state and national levels, with the most recent being the Outstanding Contribution to Range Management honor presented by the Texas Section, Society for Range Management in 2012. Others of note include: Hero of Conservation, Field and Stream Magazine; Educator of the Year, Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the Sam Beasom Leader in Conservation Award, Texas Wildlife Association, and he was even named the World Champion Quail Caller by Quail Unlimited.

A prolific writer, Rollins has written 32 refereed journal publications, compiled 27 symposium proceedings, authored 34 Extension publications and written 934 popular articles.

Rollins has also been successful in securing grants and to-date has garnered over $10 million in funding for the Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation, AgriLife Extension, AgriLife Research and the Bobwhite Brigade.

“One of the most challenging aspects of working for AgriLife Extension is the variety of topics, approaches and stakeholder groups we deal with,” Rollins said. “The biology and politics associated with various critters and those impacted by them stress the need for critical thinking. To be successful, you’ve got to have a grasp of the past and an appreciation for the various stakeholders’ perspectives.

“I love just about everything relating to quail, so I made a declaration in 2009 that if quail populations were going to become endangered in West Texas, it wasn’t going to be on my watch. Yet, quail abundance has dropped sharply, reaching a new record low in each of the past three years. When folks remind me of that trend, I remind them that my watch isn’t over yet! And this past summer has witnessed some rebound in quail numbers, so hopefully the worm has turned.

“When it comes to dealing with all things quail, my departed bird dog Suzie made me realize an important point back in 1997: ‘Be thankful that your vocation and your avocation are one and the same.’…I am.”


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