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Gear Up for Game Wardens Update May 2024

Texas Game Wardens work hard, and the specialty equipment they use every day gets a good workout, too. An airboat is a trusted workhorse for game wardens across the state. The specialized boat can maneuver well in low water situations and is used for everything from routine patrols to harrowing search and rescue missions during natural disasters or other emergencies.

In 2021, two generous Gear Up for Game Wardens donations funded specially equipped Patriot airboats. Through private donations, Gear Up for Game Wardens provides specialty equipment Texas Game Wardens need to maintain safety and ensure the highest level of service for the people of Texas. While the state provides the basic necessities for game wardens to do their jobs, there is still a critical need for additional specialized equipment.

  New Airboats for Texas Game Wardens  

One of the new airboats was recently delivered to Texas Game Warden Captain Logan Griffin’s district in central Texas. The airboat was built from the ground up with conservation law enforcement in mind, including enhanced search and rescue capabilities and additional lighting for nighttime operations. Griffin says it will also improve resource protection efforts such as patrolling environmental pollution in Texas waterways.

“It’s difficult to overstate what an incredible asset this is for Texas Game Wardens and the people and resources we protect,” said Griffin. “This is truly one of the premier conservation law enforcement airboats out there, anywhere, and we are incredibly grateful for the generous donors who support Gear Up for Game Wardens."

  New Airboats for Texas Game Wardens  

Funding for the most recent airboat was provided by Ann and Randy Fowler through Gear Up for Game Wardens. Randy serves on the leadership council that supports Gear Up. He and Ann were among the thousands of Houston residents whose homes flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. He witnessed firsthand how critical airboats are for first responders during a disaster. The Fowlers made the gift in memory of Dan Duncan, a Houston businessman who supported Texas conservation efforts throughout his life.

“It’s an honor to make this gift in his memory because he was a loyal supporter of Texas Game Wardens,” said Randy. “Ann and I appreciate that Texas Game Wardens put their lives on the line every day."

Thanks to generous donors like Randy and Ann Fowler, Gear Up for Game Wardens is going strong. Since 2017, the program has raised more than a $2.5 million to support equipment needs.




  Meet Texas Game Warden Calvin Harbaugh  

Calvin Harbaugh has been a Texas Game Warden for decades. Like most game wardens, he is an avid hunter and angler who loves spending time outdoors. The first time Harbaugh encountered a Texas Game Warden he was in junior high, in a hunting blind with his aunt, who took him hunting and fishing often.

While he remembers meeting that game warden, he didn’t have a career epiphany at the time. When he graduated high school, he headed to Texas A&M with an initial interest in becoming a wildlife biologist.

“I started out in wildlife and fishery science, but I did not do so well in the chemistry classes,” he recalled with a laugh. “I changed majors and graduated with a rangeland ecology and management degree instead."

After college, as he explored career options, he had another encounter with a Texas Game Warden, whom he met in a San Antonio field office for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. After that, Harbaugh did a couple of ride-alongs with Texas Game Wardens, and discovered his career path. He applied to the Texas Game Warden Academy, got in on his first try, and after close to 30 years as a field game warden, he still loves his job.

He’s a seasoned airboat operator and has been in just about every situation known to a game warden, including search and rescue operations for Hurricane Harvey in 2017. In late 2021, Calvin Harbaugh took possession of a brand-new Patriot airboat outfitted for the rigors of game warden work. Funding to purchase the airboat was donated through Gear Up for Game Wardens.

“It’s hard for me to put into words how grateful we are to receive this gift,” said Harbaugh. “We use an airboat all the time for our regular patrol duties like checking duck hunters or fishermen on the river. But we also use it during search and rescue operations, and it will no doubt be used for the next hurricane that hits Texas. Having the latest equipment helps ensure we can do our jobs safely and effectively for the people of Texas." 


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  Family of Drowning Victim Gives Back through Gear Up  

On April 2, 2021, Chris Whited died in a boating accident just south of Rockport in Trout Bayou. He was thrown from the boat, and his body was recovered by Texas Game Wardens a day later using a sidescan sonar. The specialty equipment helps Texas Game Wardens in search and recovery efforts and has provided closure to families. Before this equipment was available, some families had to wait days or even weeks before their loved one was recovered. 

After Chris’ death, his family set up a GoFundMe page, not for funeral expenses, but to raise funds to help those that helped in the recovery effort. The family purchased a sidescan sonar for a local fishing club that assisted law enforcement agencies and had enough funds left over to make a donation to Gear Up for Game Wardens to fund another sidescan sonar for area game wardens.

Out of tragedy comes a memorial gift that will no doubt comfort Texas families in the future.


  Thank You for Supporting Gear Up

A Texas-sized thank you to all of our donors, brand partners and supporters for making TPWF’s Gear Up for Game Wardens September 2021 online auction a huge success! Thanks to you, the auction raised almost $130,000 to support the Gear Up for Game Wardens program and ensure TPWF can continue its work to get much-needed equipment in the hands of your Texas Game Wardens. On behalf of the best-trained corps of conservation officers in the nation, thank you again for your support.

We’re already making plans for our 2022 auction, which will be held in September. Stay tuned for details!

  Become a Friend of Texas Game Wardens Today!  

Sustaining the Gear Up for Game Wardens program ensures TPWF can manage the program and purchase the specialty equipment Texas Game Wardens need. Becoming a Friend of Texas Game Wardens helps us continue our work to enhance the capabilities of the best-trained corps of conservation officers in the nation. Become a Friend today and see the exclusive items you will receive so you can show your support of our Texas Game Wardens.

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