In Profile: NRM’s Garcia turns love of the outdoors into budding NPS career
By: George Watson
Through the early years of high school, Brandon Garcia had not taken his education as seriously as his parents wanted. He wasn't doing badly, but he admits his mindset wasn't on pursuing any kind of further education after graduation.
But his parents, neither of whom attended college, made it abundantly clear after his sophomore year in high school that any success he planned to have in his life was going to be predicated on attending, and graduating from, college.
They also strongly suggested he change his stance on the subject and start taking school more seriously. The message hit home for Garcia, who got involved in several clubs, became a class officer, and improved his grade-point average and class ranking by the time he graduated.
Now that he looks back, it's clear what his parents had in mind. "Being that neither my father nor my mother attended college after graduating high school, they both instilled in me that not only is education important for improving oneself but also it's an important feat for a Hispanic person like myself to attend college and make something of myself," Garcia said.
After earning his bachelor's degree in wildlife biology from Texas Tech's Department of Natural Resources Management in 2015, Garcia has turned his educational focus and love of outdoors into a career with the U.S. National Parks Service. As a biological science technician in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, he helps protect and preserve the wildlife in the park and make sure all visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.
"Every day is a learning experience; the work is never dull and I am always learning something new each day and each season I work in the park," said Garcia, who has worked for the park since shortly after graduating.
Garcia works on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains, which split the North Carolina-Tennessee border between Knoxville, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina. As a biological science technician, he has numerous duties depending on the season.
His main involves working with elk, specifically calving season. Peak calving season, he says, is around the first two weeks of June with other births happening sporadically throughout the summer. Every week, he and another park employee check on the survival of elk calves after successfully capturing and outfitting them with a tracking collar.
It's been quite a circuitous route from his hometown of Sachse, a suburb northeast of Dallas, to Texas Tech to the Smoky Mountains, and it wasn't always a straight path for Garcia. But it is a path that has led him to where he wants to be – outdoors. He credited his time at Texas Tech with helping set him on that path to a rewarding career by providing him with outreach and educational opportunities available throughout CASNR.
"Anytime I had questions about my field, and any advice I sought, the faculty and graduate students were always there," Garcia said. He credited Robert Cox, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management, who became his adviser, with not only directing him toward a degree in wildlife biology but becoming a mentor who was available regularly to talk about school, life or whatever else came up.
Today, Cox remembers Garcia's enthusiasm and desire to be engaged in academic and research topics both inside and outside the classroom. "It was clear from the beginning that he could have a great future in wildlife conservation and management if he wanted to pursue it," Cox said. "To see his success now is fantastic, and it isn't a surprise."
CONTACT: Warren Conway, Chairman and Bricker Endowed Chair in Wildlife Management, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2841 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's Note: For a full-text version of George Watson's news item for Texas Tech University's Office of Communications & Marketing, please click here
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