By Stephen Sheedy
TEXAS — Spending time outdoors and learning about nature has always been a hobby for Mark Garza, a biologist in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District's Environmental Section.
"Growing up in Texas, I did a lot of fishing along the coast as well as camping activities with my family," said Garza. "These outdoors activities ultimately led me to pursue a career in biology."
After joining the USACE Galveston District in January 2010, Garza immediately put his skills to use working to ensure the district's projects remained in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws as part of a diverse team of scientists and biologists in the district's Planning and Environmental Branch.
"Enacted in the 1970s, NEPA established procedural requirements on how federal agencies report on the environmental impact of their projects," said Garza. "As a biologist, I serve as an environmental lead on several projects to ensure we meet all requirements under NEPA."
During his time with the district, Garza has worked on a number of diverse projects including the Corpus Christi and La Quinta ship channels, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from Port O'Connor to Corpus Christi, multiple Border Patrol Station projects and the Wallisville Lake Project.
"By helping the Corps remain in compliance with environmental laws, I know the work that I do makes a positive contribution to the communities in which we work and live" said Garza.
While Garza recognizes all of the projects he works with are important, there is one that holds a particular interest.
"I thoroughly enjoy any work that involves the Wallisville Lake Project," said Garza. "In addition to the recreational opportunities Wallisville offers, such as boating, fishing and hiking, it's also the home to many different habitats including swamps, riparian forests and lakes. Any visit there is a great opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife including deer, numerous species of birds, and even the American alligator."
Garza enjoys being a member of a diverse Corps team.
"The USACE Galveston environmental leads represent a variety of different skill sets," said Garza. "I'm a biologist, but we also have archeologists and physical scientists working in our branch. I enjoy working with such a diverse group of people."
Prior to working with the Corps, Garza's previous employment included working as a fish biologist with the U.S. Forest Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Garza earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master of Science degree in Wildlife and Fisheries from Texas A&M at College Station.
A native of San Antonio, Garza is married and enjoys gardening, fishing, hiking and reading.