Tuesday , August 22 2017
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Tag Archives: College of Agricultural

NMSU College of ACES Evaluates Agricultural Science Center System

Public concern regarding New Mexico State University potentially closing two agricultural science centers has stimulated the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to conduct a self-evaluation of the 12 centers around the state.

“At this time we are not closing any centers; that would be the last recourse, but it is on the table,” said College of ACES Dean Rolando A. Flores. “In a time of low budgets, we need to rationalize and properly manage our resources.”

During visits with the advisory boards at each agricultural science center, Flores explained the evaluation process the college has begun.

“We have formed a committee to determine ways we can operate the research centers more efficiently as a whole, while reaching our goal of providing applied science that the agricultural producers may use in their operations to position themselves for success,” Flores said.

The committee includes individuals from the private industry, some agricultural science center superintendents, college department heads and faculty members.

“Our agricultural science centers need to be as self-sufficient as possible; research is not free,” Flores said. “It is critical that faculty members submit grant proposals, and they are doing it. However, at the national level, funding sources have decreased while the amount of people applying for funding has increased.”

The alternative for the College of ACES is to do as other universities have done – turn to the private sector for partnerships.

“We need to start looking at different approaches as to how we fund research,” he said. “We need more involvement with private industry participating in research, sponsoring research.”

Under Flores’ leadership the entire college is conducting an extensive self-evaluation to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of each department and program, including the Cooperative Extension Service within each county and the 12 agricultural science centers around the state.

“As with any organization involving 700 employees, we are finding issues and we are working to solve them,” Flores said. “As an engine for the economic and community development of New Mexico, we are committed to use efficient systems with considerable positive impact in the state.”

Author:  Jane Moorman – NMSU

New NMSU Extension Specialist offers Tips on Adopting Healthy Habits

By now, most people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or exercise more. But adopting healthy habits can be done at any time of year. It just takes a healthy mindset, time and patience, said Raquel Garzon, New Mexico State University’s new nutrition and wellness extension specialist in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Garzon comes to NMSU from Florida, where she worked as a nutritionist, trainer and keynote speaker. She is the president and founder of Revitalize Project, a company that provides wellness programs to corporations and community organizations. She started at NMSU in early January and has already fallen in love with New Mexico’s weather and mountain scenery.

“I think this is a better fit for me,” said Garzon, who earned her doctor of health science degree with a concentration in Global Health from Nova Southeastern University. “I still have a lot to learn about the state and the people, but I already feel there’s a need here for nutrition and wellness education.”

Esther Devall, head of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of ACES, said Garzon’s experience will help strengthen nutrition and wellness outreach throughout the state.

“We are excited to have Dr. Garzon join our faculty in Extension Family and Consumer Sciences,” Devall said. “She brings strong experience in working with large corporations in the U.S. and abroad on nutrition and wellness issues. Her expertise in using social media should help us communicate practical, research-based information about nutrition and physical activity to a larger audience. She is enthusiastic about making a difference in the lives of New Mexicans, and has gotten off to a strong start in forming collaborations with our county agents.”

One idea Garzon emphasizes is that there is no quick fix for weight loss. She said that because of today’s technology, which provides users with most things with a phone swipe or website, most people are becoming wired for immediate fulfillment.

“It’s hard for people to stick with healthy habits, but it’s an investment,” Garzon said. “You can’t lose five pounds in one night. You have to have the mindset of healthy behaviors that affect you inside and outside. There are good things happening in your body that you can’t see right away when you adopt a healthy lifestyle.”

Garzon said social media has also led many people to adopt unhealthy or unsuccessful habits in hopes of losing weight.

“You can’t go on Instagram and follow Kim Kardashian’s diet, or take pills because Dr. Oz says it’s OK,” Garzon said. “You want to make sure what you’re doing is safe and sustainable. We spend billions of dollars on stuff that hasn’t been medically proven.”

So what does work? Eating balanced meals made up of whole grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables and dairy; eating small portions; engaging in challenging, intensive physical activity; and getting enough sleep, Garzon said.

Garzon said taking a holistic approach to your health will also help you become successful in losing weight.

“Stress causes changes that causes you to store fat and leads you to bad behaviors, like binge eating junk food or drinking too much,” Garzon said. “It’s important to practice mindfulness and meditation.”

Also, think about how you define your life and your reasons for becoming healthy, Garzon said. Those reasons should be long-term goals, such as living a long, full life or becoming a better version of yourself.

“It can’t be short-lived. It can’t be because you want to look better in your bikini by summer,” Garzon said.

Garzon also suggests wearing activity trackers that monitor your physical activity and sleep, and keeping a food diary to monitor what you’ve eaten and your mood.

“I encourage people to experiment and talk to people who have been successful. Find out habits that will work for you,” Garzon said.

Author:  Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU Faculty Share Climate Change, Food Security Knowledge in Colombia

Two New Mexico State University faculty members in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences have recently returned from Colombia, where they shared their knowledge of climate change and the ramifications of climate change on food security.

Mick O’Neill, a professor in the Plant and Environmental Sciences department, and David DuBois, New Mexico State Climatologist and an NMSU associate professor also in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, joined a group of international faculty at the University of La Salle in Bogotá, Colombia, to teach at the university’s Summer Academy.

“The overall topic for the academy was Underpinning Social Transformations with 16 academic areas including world food security,” O’Neill said. “We experimented with a team teaching approach with Dave covering climate change and me addressing the ramifications of climate change on world food security.”

DuBois and O’Neill also organized a two-day “hackathon” led by the staff from Global Development Analytics. The hackathon incorporated presentations on meteorological data acquisition and analysis using a global database made freely available by aWhere, Inc.

“The La Salle Dean of Agriculture and the director of the International and Interinstitutional Relations Office were extremely pleased with the team-teaching approach initiated by NMSU faculty from Plant and Environmental Sciences,” O’Neill said.

DuBois said he and his students also experimented with social media during the climate change portion of the summer course.

“The students researched data and papers of their interest on climate change, and then followed climate scientists from around the globe on Twitter to get a glimpse of the hot topics and discussions,” DuBois said. “Twitter gave our students an opportunity to listen and communicate with other scientists that they would normally not have access to.”

Some of the topics discussed during the course and hackathon can be viewed by searching for the hashtags #lasalleclima16 and #hack4farmingbogota on Twitter.

NMSU faculty members and students have been participating in an exchange program with the University of La Salle’s Utopiá Project since 2014. The program began when the international programs office at La Salle asked the NMSU Office of International and Border Programs to join them in developing a project proposal to submit to Partners of the Americas, a private sector organization which carries out multi-year projects in the Western Hemisphere. The La Salle-NMSU consortium was awarded the project in June 2014.

O’Neill led a group of students and faculty as part of the exchange program to Colombia in 2014 to teach at La Salle’s main campus in Bogotá and the satellite campus in Yopal, which is also the site of the Utopiá project. As part of the exchange program, O’Neill and fellow faculty designed a drip irrigation system for the agroforestry field at the Utopiá campus.

A group of Utopiá students and faculty reciprocated the exchange in 2015 when they visited NMSU’s main campus in Las Cruces. The NMSU students and faculty who had gone to Colombia organized a two-week program in Las Cruces for the visitors from La Salle. The program included classes, cultural events and field trips.

The focus of the Utopiá Project is creating and integrating agricultural, educational and productive opportunities for resource-limited young people from rural areas of Colombia who have been traumatized by drug-related violence. The project’s goal is to reinvent Colombia’s agricultural sector to achieve a sustainable agricultural transformation through participatory research and appropriate technology utilization.

Partners of the Americas has also sponsored the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative in association with the White House.

In August, the Utopiá project was awarded the National Prize for Solidarity by the Alejandro Angel Escobar Foundation in Colombia. The prize is regarded as the highest scientific award in Colombia and recognizes those who have made significant scientific discoveries or achievements, and those involved in charities that have made a significant impact on Colombian communities.

For more information on the hackathon, visit http://globaldevelopmentanalytics.org/gda-facilitates-2016-la-salle-hackathon-in-bogota-colombia/

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

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