By USACE Galveston District Public Affairs Office
GALVESTON, Texas – If you were to ask Fort Worth native Ron Wooten what his favorite job has been throughout his career, you’d be surprised to learn he’s sort of a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as an advanced placement high school teacher, research fisheries biologist, mentor, landscape and irrigation company owner and photojournalist.
With a variety of skill sets under his belt, Wooten is learning to master an important role as a Department of the Army Intern and regulatory specialist in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Regulatory Branch, helping to protect the nation’s aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development through fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions – a position he’s held since September 2013.
“I’ve grown to love coastal living and have really come to appreciate how important our coastal and wetland natural resources are to our planet,” said Wooten. “This is one of the few fields in which man’s activities that lead to wetland or watery habitat destruction or degradation can be evaluated for impacts and prevented or mitigated.”
The Department of the Army Intern Program is a vital source of new talent for the Army.
Participants enjoy a wide variety of education and training opportunities that introduce them to the Army mission, culture and business enterprises and develop their early career competencies, allowing rapid advancement to the journeyman level while building a foundation for future professional growth and promotion.
“Everything I am asked to do – I try to do to the best of my abilities,” said Wooten. “I’ve had the opportunity to partake in rotational assignments throughout various divisions here at the Corps, and I am currently working in the Regulatory Branch’s Compliance Division, conducting jurisdictional determinations, wetland delineations and evaluating unauthorized activities.”
The intern program provides a broad variety of projects, each offering their own unique challenges and opportunities for learning.
“I assisted the district’s Office of Counsel in processing Freedom of Information Act requests, in addition to evaluating several jurisdictional determination requests,” said Wooten. “If you work in waters of the United States or discharge fill material into a wetland area over which the Corps has jurisdiction, without first obtaining authorization from the Corps, you may be in violation of federal regulations. Violations can be very expensive to rectify and my result in civil penalties.”
Wooten notes it’s important to contact the Corps if you believe a permit is required to perform work in your area. Staff can assist the community in navigating through the application process.
Wooten’s earned multiple accolades for his work throughout his career, including having been named one of Galveston’s Top 50 Teachers, a commendation for service during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, multiple photojournalism honors and awards of Excellence in Craft from the Texas Outdoor Writers Association.
While he’s only been with the Galveston District for nearly a year and a half, he says he’s grateful for the opportunity to work at the Corps and looks forward to learning and growing professionally. Wooten earned a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries in 1990 from Texas A&M and a master’s degree in Marine Resource Management in 2013 from Texas A&M University at Galveston.
He is a member of the Texas Outdoor Writer’s Association and plans to earn his Professional Wetland Scientist certification. In his spare time, Wooten enjoys photography, camping with his family, enjoying the outdoors and writing.
He is married to his wife, Trisha Wooten, and has two daughters, Allison and Emily.
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