By Rita Cook
When Dallas Sierra Club member Molly Rooke was nominated for Green Source DFW’s Volunteer of Year, her peer noted: “Molly should be nominated for environmental sainthood.” Rooke has been a Dallas Sierra Club member for more than 25 years, but that is not where her environmental interests end since over the years she has had her hands in everything from recycling to fracking.
Memnosyne Institute president Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk
presents the Environmental Leadership Award to Molly Rooke
Born in Corpus Christi, Rooke lived on her family’s South Texas ranch that has been in the family since the 1830s near Refugio until she was about four years old. From there she moved to Houston and then had another childhood stint at the ranch before finally moving to Dallas.
Over the years she has worked against dirty coal plants with former Mayor Laura Miller, dirty cement kilns in Midlothian, served on committees at North Texas Council of Governments to help formulate better eco policies in the Metroplex and, as a volunteer for the Sierra Club and the other groups she takes part in, she solidly dedicates at least 20 hours per week to environmental issues. (Photo: State Rep Lon Burnham and Molly Rooke)
“Most of my days are almost entirely spent educating about and advocating for environmental protection,” Rooke says. “I answer many, many calls and emails daily, providing advice and assistance. I speak to groups, before city councils, planning commissions, state legislators, members of Congress and have even spoken directly with U.S. Presidents and a Vice President.”
Rooke says too that she is constantly still learning about environmental issues and always strives to keep up-to-date on what is going on. “I am mainly self-taught,” she says “as my degrees are in art history, but I love science as well, so I've long been a voracious reader of science.”
She has also served on the North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee and the Resource Conservation Council at the North Central Texas Council of Governments as well as serving as the Political Chair of the Dallas Regional Group and of the Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club. It is here that she spends much time working on the campaigns of endorsed candidates and encouraging and organizing others to do so as well. (Photo: Molly Rooke with Al Armendariz, then Administrator of EPA Region 6, at Earth Day Dallas 2011)
“I was a Sierra Club member, who like so many, never attended a meeting, but, in 1988, when I needed help to find out where I could recycle newspapers when the bin at a grocery store where I had been dropping them off was gone, I called the Dallas Sierra Club Recycling Coordinator who said there was no good list of locations and that they needed help getting the city of Dallas to improve recycling information and options,” she said. “I then attended the next Dallas Sierra Club meeting and the next Recycling Committee meeting and helped them organize a Recycling Fair to educate people about recycling. I also went down to the Texas House of Representatives to lobby, as a concerned citizen, for good recycling and solid waste, and other good environmental bills.”
The rest she says, it history, but she does add that it seems to be in her nature to take care of the natural environment overall and it always has been.
It was around 1990 when she found out about the environmental harm caused by eating meat and dairy and she began eating vegetarian and vegan. She is also conscious of the environment in regard to the impacts of transportation. She bought a Prius in 2004, which she drives when public transit is not possible.
This month she is particularly busy she says since it is not only Earth Month where she is a speaker and organizer for several events, but there is also the Texas Legislative session, “the most anti-environmental I've seen in my lifetime.” It's also Dallas City Council election time for which she is an organizer and door-to-door walker. She says it is critical “that we maintain or increase the number of environmental protectors/public interest advocates on the council, or we'll lose every environmental vote, including on drilling in Dallas.” (Photo: Molly Rooke, center, with Rita Beving of Public Citizen and Dewayne Quertermous of the Fort Worth Sierra Club.)
In conclusion, Rooke says of her interests in the environment : “I guess, I've had strong green tendencies and behavior before the term was used. I treated nature gently and didn't waste anything. As a child, I collected and recycled cans and saved newspapers to turn in at paper drives at my school.”
Also see the GSDFW article: Molly Rooke Environmental Advocate July 10, 2011
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Rita Cook is an award winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org