Park Pollinators: Meet John Rooney

AustinParksFoundationPark Pollinators, APF News Leave a Comment

Our tagline is people + parks, and we take that to heart. We know the people we work with, both inside and outside the office, are what make this organization successful, and we’re proud of the team we’ve put together. Each of us is committed to making Austin’s parks, trails and green spaces great for each and every Austinite. Read up on this month’s featured APF staff member, and stay tuned for more throughout the year!

Name: John Rooney


Programs Coordinator

What He Does:

John facilitates our community facing programs like the Adopt-A-Park program (where local neighborhood groups can get involved with the development and maintenance of their park,  ACL Music Festival Grants program (where APF provides funding to the groups for park improvements), the Sponsored Fund Account program (where APF acts as the fiscal sponsor for smaller neighborhood groups and Adopt-A-Park partners) the Fitness in the Park program (which gives Austinites all over the city free fitness opportunities), and many more. He also works with Adopter groups on how they can advocate to city council, and other key stakeholders, for more funding and improvements to their parks!

Time at APF:

1 year 7 months

Favorite park:

“As anyone who knows me will tell you, I can never choose just one “favorite.” I’m especially fond of the different trails, greenbelts, and preserves we have here in Austin, and it’s on a trail away from the busy-ness of the city that I find my peace. My favorites are the Turkey Creek Trail, Barton Creek Greenbelt (especially the less-used secondary trails), and the Bull Creek Greenbelt and Preserve. There’s a few I haven’t gotten to yet, so let me know if I’ve missed your favorite! And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my love for Barton Springs – there’s something truly magical about that place, especially if you’re there during the week when the crowds aren’t so large. ” 

Favorite thing about being on the APF Staff:

“The people! Our staff is made up of wonderful people that are passionate about the work we do, and I feel privileged to work with them every day. Similarly, our volunteers and park adopters are people who care deeply about our community and the health and accessibility of our local public lands. It’s been a joy to meet so many different people in neighborhoods all over Austin, and to be in a position to share APF’s resources to support their efforts at making their neighborhood’s vision for their park and community a reality.”

Favorite park memory:

“I’ve gotten to see and experience some amazing things, from moose, wolves, and bears in Denali to those stunning Big Bend views; from deer running through the Allegheny National Forest to gorgeous waterfalls at the end of hikes; countless nights gazing at the stars to laying underneath trees listening to the wind and watching the clouds go by; long summer days at county parks growing up were the first places I was able to walk in the woods, look for turtles, birds, and other wildlife, find crawfish in streams and creeks, and climb over rocks.

However, there’s one memory that’s especially close to my heart. Growing up, my best friends and I all lived quite close to a large local park. We spent countless afternoons and weekends there, playing everything from basketball to baseball, tennis to frisbee, soccer to jumping off of swings, sledding, playing rugby and whatever else in the snow, and doing donuts in the parking lot in the winter. When I got into running at the end of high school and in college I had a great 5k route that went through the park, and from time to time I would join my family on walks there. The collective memory of all the time spent there is something I’ll never forget – the park is aptly named Windsor Wonderland!” 

Fun Fact:

“Even though I’m a born and bred farm town Pennsylvania boy, my time in Austin is my second rodeo in Texas. I spent my first two years of college studying at the University of North Texas’ famed Jazz Studies program before ultimately graduating from Allegheny College, a small liberal arts college in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania. While my horns have sadly gone through periods of collecting dust since I left UNT and pursued other studies and professional and personal endeavors, I still occasionally moonlight as a saxophonist, clarinetist, and flautist, although no longer under the stage name I was given during high school in an oldies rock & roll band: Johnny Diamond.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.