NTMN Insect Instructor Mike Merchant Retires from TAMU

After more than 30 years with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, professor and entomologist Mike Merchant will retire on August 31 . He became renowned for his development of integrated pest management (IPM) system of varied methods for controlling pests while keeping people and the environment safe. His work on crepe myrtle scale and fire ant control was also groundbreaking.

Merchant was a long-time instructor of the insect curriculum for NTMN. “I did not even know I was so interested in insects until I heard his presentation as I was going through the Master Naturalist program,” said Ellen Sexton Guiling. “I became entranced!”

“The North Texas Master Naturalists thank you for many years of instructing our new trainees.  Your class was always a favorite among our students. You opened our eyes to the fascinating world of insects and helped us appreciate their contributions to our earth,” said new class director Nancy Wilson. “We have also enjoyed participating in the Citizen Science opportunities you have worked on. Very best wishes for a happy retirement!”

Carol Leonardi Clark concurred: “He’s an extraordinary teacher! So many will miss his knowledge and skills.” Connie Cotton Koval added, “A wonderful resource and a great teacher. Wishing him the best!”

Merchant was instrumental in developing Texas’s Master Naturalists’ Volunteer Entomology Specialists, a rigorous course of study that stimulated many to pursue a deep study of insects, such as Laura Kimberly who wrote: “Thank you, Mike Merchant, for the Master Volunteer Entomology Specialist program.”

“I took the multi-day entomologist training at the AgriLife office a few years ago, and Dr. Merchant’s down-to-earth approach to the largest group of critters on the planet—insects—seems manageable,” said Dana Wilson. “The wide array of speakers, presentation techniques, and training materials reflected Dr. Merchant’s incredible knowledge and a real flair for teaching.”

His reach extended to generations of master gardeners, another AgriLife Extension program. “Mike Merchant spoke to the Dallas Master Gardeners school every year.I was in the 2012 class and learned so much from him,” said Jo Holdeman. “I attended several more of his lectures the last 8 years. He was always well prepared and passionate about his subject material. He made such a good impact on our community! May he find goodness in the next chapter of his life.”

All photos from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

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