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Steven "Steve" Whisenant '82 October 20, 2022 3:12 PM updated: October 20, 2022 3:23 PM

Steven G. Whisenant

December 5, 1950 - August 31, 2022

Steven G. Whisenant of Ingram, Texas, a worldwide authority on natural resource management and ecological restoration and an accomplished administrator, departed from his earthly habitat on August 31, 2022. Steve was born December 5, 1950, in Plainview, Texas, son of Robert G. and Shirlene Whisenant. Steve's life history and accomplishments made him a hero and inspiration to his friends and colleagues. During the second decade of his life, an unscrupulous friend and a misunderstanding resulted in Steve dropping out of high school and joining the U.S. Marine Corp. The Marine Corp provided Steve extensive experience in Viet Nam behind an M60 machine gun in the open door of a Huey helicopter gunship. This experience changed Steve's trajectory and put him on track for an exceptional life.

Steve earned his high school GED and then went on to earn a B.S. in Wildlife Management (with Honors) in 1975 at Texas Tech University. While working full time as a Range Research Associate for the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at San Angelo, Steve earned his M.S. in Biology with a chemistry minor at Angelo State University in 1978. Then in 1982 he earned his Ph.D. in Range Science at Texas A&M University.

Steve began his career as an educator and researcher as an Assistant Professor in 1982 and Associate Professor in 1987 in the Department of Botany & Range Science, Brigham Young University. In 1988 Steve joined the Rangeland Ecology and Management faculty at Texas A&M University as an Associate Professor and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1995. Steve's leadership skills in academia were recognized in 2003 and 2004, respectively, when he was appointed Interim Head and then Head of Rangeland Ecology and Management. While ably handling this demanding responsibility, in 2006 he was appointed Interim Head of Forest Science. His leadership and organizational skills lead to the merger of these two departments into Ecosystem Science and Management in 2007, with Steve Whisenant as Department Head. This unit had 53 faculty members in teaching, research and extension and about 400 students. Steve stepped down from this administrative role in 2012 and accepted the assignment as Chief of Party, John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology: a consortium for development in Bor, South Sudan implemented via USAID funding through The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, Texas A&M University System. In 2013, he was named Regional Director Middle East and Africa of The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. In 2018, Steve was appointed Chief of Party for a USAID- funded program, Women's Scholarship Endowment, to assist women in Afghanistan obtain university education, implemented by The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. Steve survived civil wars while working in South Sudan and Afghanistan.

Steve Whisenant authored or co-authored about 50 refereed journal articles and 7 book chapters, but the capstone of his career was his book Whisenant, S.G. 1999, ''Repairing Damaged Wildlands: A process-oriented, landscape-scale approach'' published by Cambridge University Press. China Science Press and Cambridge University Press have published a Chinese translation of the book. Steve's book is in its 7th printing and is the most widely sold and used ecological restoration book in the world. Steve was a pioneer and early innovator in the science of ecological restoration and was always generous in sharing his knowledge and experience with others around the globe. He has served as a consultant and source of knowledge and lent administrative and organizational expertise to at least 27 foreign countries, including 8 in the Middle East and Gulf Region, 4 in Africa, 3 in North America, 2 provinces and 2 autonomous regions in the Peoples Republic of China, 3 in the Indian subcontinent, 2 in Europe, 1 in Southeast Asia, 1 in South America, and 1 in the Republic of China.

Honors for Steve Whisenant's professional achievements include: the Society for Range Management's (SRM) prestigious Chapline Research Award and Outstanding Achievement Award; Texas Section SRM's Outstanding Contribution to Range Management Award and Outstanding Publication Awards; the Aspen Global Change Institute Summer Science Fellow; and Outstanding Service Award, Dept. of Botany & Range Science, BYU. His career was supported by about $14.5 million in extramural funding.

Examples of Steve's leadership include service as: Chair of the Association of University Rangeland Resource Programs 2006-2008; Executive Board Member of the Texas Forestry Association 2006-2012; Editorial Advisory Board, Ecological Restoration 2004-2015; Contributing Editor, Native Plants Journal 2000-2005; Associate Editor Journal of Range Management 1987-1990; and Faculty Advisory Committee for Texas A&M University Press 2009-2013. Steve was on the Board of Directors of the Society for Ecological Restoration International 2003-2014 and served as Chair of the Board 2011-2013. His consulting firm, SGW Global, LLC was created in 2017.

Steve Whisenant is remembered as a loyal friend, always smiling, a servant to others and a wise and caring steward of our rangeland ecosystems. Steve is survived by his loving and devoted wife as well as his hiking, fishing, and traveling companion, Judith A. Turlington, of Ingram, Texas; son Justin Whisenant and wife Vicky of Kerrville, Texas; daughter Laura Gray and husband Bryan of Waco, Texas; step-son Tyler Turlington and wife Charlotte of San Antonio, Texas; mother Shirlene Juno of San Antonio; 10 grandchildren; sister Francyne Underwood and husband Sidney of Garden Ridge, Texas; sister Lisa Merxbauer of San Antonio; and brother Kevin L. Whisenant and wife Kathy of Plainview, Texas. Steve was preceded in death by his father Robert G. Whisenant and brother Jon R. Whisenant.

The family will receive friends at a visitation taking place at Kerrville First United Methodist Church, 321 Thompson Dr., beginning at One O'clock in the afternoon on Monday, September 5th until shortly before the beginning of the funeral service at Two O'clock in the afternoon. Immediately after the funeral service, there will be a reception in the Fellowship Hall of the church.

The committal service with full military honors will occur at Three Quarters of an hour after One O'clock in the afternoon on Tuesday, September 6th at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, 1520 Harry Wurzbach Rd. San Antonio, Texas 78209.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Brighton Center for Children with Special Needs (14207 Higgins Rd., San Antonio, TX 78217, ph. 210/826-4492)

One treasured fragment of Steve's philosophy was, ''Every day you spend fishing adds another day onto the end of your life.'' Rest and fish in peace Steve. Semper Fi.

 



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