Returning AgriLife Extension employee to coordinate outdoor youth programs


Denise Harmel-Garza has rejoined the wildlife and fisheries sciences department and will be involved in statewide outdoor youth programs, especially hunter education. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo)

COLLEGE STATION — After a four-year hiatus, Denise Harmel-Garza has returned to Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s wildlife and fisheries sciences department at Texas A&M University in College Station as an Extension associate.

In her new position, Harmel-Garza, who has a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wildlife science from Texas A&M University, will be involved in the department’s Hunter Education Program, as well as other outdoor youth education programs.

“Denise began with Extension in 1996 in the department, where she worked for 11 years,” said her supervisor, Dr. Jim Cathey, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist. “She played a vital part in developing and implementing both our Hunter Education and 4-H Sportfishing programs in her dual role with both Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M universities.”

Cathey said during her earlier AgriLife Extension employment Harmel-Garza provided wildlife and fishery trainings to agents and volunteers. Additionally, she provided fishing, nature studies, archery, and challenge-leadership courses for inner-city youth attending the H.S. Estelle 4-H and Youth Camp in Huntsville. She also received a Community Outdoor Outreach Grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that allowed more than 200 inner city youth to enjoy and learn about the great outdoors through the 4-Explorers Program.

“Denise believes that wildlife conservation plays a vital role in connecting people to natural processes,” Cathey said. “She has a great depth of knowledge and experience in this field, and is well respected by her peers and those she serves, especially the young people for whom she has helped provide a true love of nature.”

Cathey added that Harmel-Garza also has provided leadership for other organizations, including: Becoming an Outdoors Woman, Texas Brigade Camps, Wildlife Management Area Youth Shooting Events, the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society Conservation Camp, the Texas Youth Hunter Program, Something’s Fishy 4-H School Enrichment Module, the White-tailed Deer School Enrichment Module and the 4-H Sportfishing program.

“I’m happy to once again be working within the wildlife and fisheries unit on the Hunter Education Program,” Harmel-Garza said. “This program is a partnership between Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The partnership receives funding from Federal Aid in the Wildlife Restoration Program. It’s great to be back in the department and to have the opportunity to again work with youth statewide.”

“Denise will certify Hunter Education Program instructors and volunteers within the Texas 4-H hunting discipline,” Cathey said. “This is a natural partnership with the thousands of youth participating in the 4-H program. She will work closely with volunteers, county AgriLife Extension agents, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel and 4-H clubs statewide to implement and expand the program.”

He noted that the goal of hunter education is to increase safety awareness, outdoor skills, and knowledge of regulations and wildlife conservation, as well as to help ensure the sustainability of wildlife and hunting in Texas.

For more information on youth outdoor programs, contact Harmel-Garza at 979-845-4865 or or go to the Wild Wonderings blog at


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