Norman R. Garza Jr. represents the eighth generation of his family to call the South Texas plains and Gulf Coast home.
“As my siblings and I were growing up, our parents and grandparents instilled a respect for the land in us,” Garza said. “Land is something to be cared for. Managing it—and keeping it intact—is a cherished responsibility.”
When he left his family’s Atascosa County ranch to for St. Edward’s University to pursue a degree in political science, he knew that his love of public policy was matched by his love of Texas.
“I wanted a career in public policy, but I didn’t have an itch to go to Washington D.C. or New York,” Garza said. “I wanted to live in Austin and deal with Texas issues because I am first and foremost a Texan.”
Currently, Garza is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government Relations for Texas A&M Engineering. Prior to joining the Texas A&M University System, he served as the Associate Legislative Director for Texas Farm Bureau, where he worked on ag and natural resource issues with agricultural producers in all of Texas 254 counties as well as state legislators and agency officials. He also gained experience working on the staffs of several state legislators.
“I have a wide network of existing relationships in state agencies, the Texas Legislature and Congress,” Garza said. “I have an opportunity to help people understand that open space land is the ecological foundation of Texas providing not only food and shelter, but clean air and water.”
Outside of the legislative arena, his target audience is young professionals like himself who are part of working lands families.
“Although conservation easements may be foreign to some families, the idea of keeping land intact and in production from generation to generation is not,” he said. “If I can help educate the younger generation, they can educate the older generations. Together, they can determine if this tool is right for their family.”