Former Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
As a Rubenstein Fellow, Bonnie is working with students and faculty to address issues related to climate change and natural resource conservation, with a focus on rural America.
Through the Nicholas Institute’s Catalyst Program, Bonnie leads a project that is assessing rural attitudes on the environment in order to identify ways of engaging rural Americans – who manage large portions of America’s lands and watersheds – in collaborative solutions to addressing environmental challenges. Bonnie also led a 2017-18 Bass Connections project team that developed policy proposals to meet the goals of the Mid-Century Decarbonization plan and is leading a second Bass Connections project team in 2018-19 titled Rethinking the Endangered Species Act’s Implementation on Private, Working Lands. Bonnie also teaches courses in the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy.
From August 2013 to January 2017, Robert Bonnie was the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this role, Bonnie oversaw the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a variety of natural resource issues, including management of the 193 million acre National Forest and Grassland System, implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs on America's farms, ranches and forests, and climate change. From April 2009 to July 2013, Bonnie served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for environment and climate change. Prior to joining the USDA, Mr. Bonnie was Vice President for Land Conservation for the Environmental Defense Fund where he focused on developing incentives to reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship activities on private lands. Mr. Bonnie has master degrees in forestry and environmental management from Duke University. He grew up on a farm in Kentucky and now lives in Virginia.
Branding Iron | April 9, 2019 By Elizabeth Chambers Conservation policy needs more carrots and fewer sticks if we are going to create a long-lasting and effective model of protecting the natural environment, says former Natural Resources and Environment undersecretary at the United States Department of Agriculture Robert Bonnie. Bonnie, currently the Rubenstein Fellow at Duke University, spoke…
The Measure of Everyday Life | March 20, 2019 In this podcast, Robert Bonnie, a Rubenstein Fellow at Duke University and the former Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Emily Pechar, a recent graduate of the Duke University PhD in Environmental Policy program, talk about a new project to better understand…
Duke Environment | Fall 2018 Issue By Sergio Tovar Policymakers increasingly recognize America’s urban-rural divide as a major obstacle for gaining widespread public support for stronger government protections for the climate and the environment. A new analysis by a Duke University faculty-student team found that the way policies are designed, communicated and framed can be key…
"The Rubenstein Fellowship has provided me with a tremendous opportunity to work with faculty and students at the Nicholas School, the Nicholas Institute and the Sanford School to explore challenges in environmental conservation in rural America and to develop new policy approaches that can work for both rural constituencies and the environment."- Robert Bonnie, 2017-19 Rubenstein Fellow