STARKVILLE, Miss.— Tony Tooke, a 1983 graduate of Mississippi State University, will lead the U.S. Forest Service, the national agency responsible for the management and protection of 154 national forests throughout the nation.

A Detroit, Ala., native, Tooke’s career with the U.S. Forest Service began when he was 18. He most recently served as regional forester for the Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service. He has also served as associate deputy chief for the National Forest System, director of ecosystem management coordination, deputy director of economic recovery and assistant director of forest management.

“The Forest Service will be in good hands with the agency’s own Tony Tooke, whose forestry knowledge is unmatched,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Tony has been preparing for this role his entire professional life, and his transition into leadership will be seamless.”

Prior to 2006, Tooke held several positions throughout the South, including deputy forest supervisor for the National Forest in Florida, district ranger in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi and forester in Kentucky.

“We are proud of Tony and are confident that he will manage our national forests for productivity and health,” said George Hopper, dean of the College of Forest Resources at MSU. “Tony is a great example of the leadership roles our alumni are engaged in throughout the United States. The forestry major prepares students to lead in conserving and managing our natural resources.”

The Mississippi State University College of Forest Resources was established in 1954 and offers undergraduate and graduate majors in forestry; natural resources and environmental conservation; sustainable bioproducts; and wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture.