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Home | Tag Archives: Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Tag Archives: Consumer and Environmental Sciences

NMSU Extension to host two food safety trainings for produce growers

No one growing produce wants to inadvertently make people ill because of poor food safety practices.

Two training sessions will be held in New Mexico to help fruit and vegetable growers meet the regulatory requirements included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule.

New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service and the Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center, housed at NMSU, are offering produce safety rule training in Las Cruces on Wednesday, March 4; and Albuquerque on Thursday, March 19.

The Product Safety Rule requires at least one supervisor or person responsible for the farm to have successfully completed food safety training in accordance with the annual monetary value of produce the farm sold during the previous three years.

“This is a one-day event that is intended for fruit and vegetable producers and importers who grow, harvest, pack or hold produce and fruit that is usually consumed raw, and who sell more than $25,000 per year,” said Bob Silver with the Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center.

Participants who complete the course receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials that verifies they have completed the training. The certificate is also useful for meeting buyer requirements for food safety.

Participants receive a course manual that is a useful reference for farm safety practices and to develop a farm safety plan.

The Product Safety Alliance grower training in New Mexico will be:

– March 4: Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Avenue, Las Cruces. Online registration payment due by Feb. 28
– March 19: NMSU Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service, 1510 Menaul Blvd, Albuquerque. Online registration payment due by March 13.

All training sessions are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Online registration cost is $35. At-the-door registration is $50, which includes training manual and certification of course completion.

To register online click here. For more information, visit the website or call Janet Witte, 575-646-5949.

The trainings are sponsored by NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU

NMSU to host FSMA preventative controls certification courses

New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will host three hybrid training and certification courses designed for food and beverage manufacturing industry professionals.

The course, titled “Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance – Preventive Controls for Human Food Hybrid Course for Preventive Controls Qualified Individual,” will be offered in two parts.

The first part will be offered online by the International Food Protection Training Institute for $198. The second part will be offered in person on the NMSU campus for $300.

The in-person portion of the course will take place from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 16 and June 4 at Gerald Thomas Hall, Room 360, on the NMSU main campus, and Feb. 19 at the South Valley Economic Development Center, 318 Isleta Blvd. SW in Albuquerque.

Cost of the course includes eight hours of instruction, a manual with materials, and an Association of Food and Drug Officials certificate. Registration must be submitted two weeks before any of the scheduled trainings.

The current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk‐based Preventive Controls for Human Food regulation, referred to as the Preventive Controls for Human Food regulation, is intended to ensure safe manufacturing/processing, packing and holding of food products for human consumption in the United States.

The regulation requires that certain activities must be completed by a preventive controls qualified individual. This course, developed by the FSPCA, is the “standardized curriculum” recognized by FDA. Successfully completing this course is one way to meet the requirements for a preventive controls qualified individual.

Training objectives are for the food safety professional who must have skills in efficient management of an FSMA Food Safety Plan and Good Manufacturing practices; conducting a risk assessment to determine controls for process, food allergen, sanitation and supply chain procedures in the food process environment; and implementing the requirements for verification, validation and record keeping.

To register or for more information, contact Nancy Flores at or 575-646-1179. Information and registration is also available online.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU researchers drive agriculture into the future with big data

Researchers in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University are working to solve an array of real-world challenges – from tracking livestock behavior to improving agricultural sustainability and developing artificial intelligence for agriculture – by using big data.

Big data is a loosely defined term for large datasets collected and analyzed by researchers to reveal patterns, trends and associations, and predict behaviors and interactions. Many industries, including agriculture and farming, use big-data and supercomputing methods to identify solutions for some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

“With the world’s population expected to grow to more than 9 billion by 2050, there is an urgent need to produce more food on less land with less water and fewer inputs,” said Natalie Goldberg, College of ACES interim associate dean and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.

“The ability to collect enormous amounts of data is a reality,” Goldberg added. “Big data science moves that information to data analysis, machine learning, the development of decision-making tools, and the use of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, including robotics. Implementation of big data science into agriculture will move technology development into solutions that will help solve some of agriculture’s most complex problems.”

By implementing big data and emerging technologies, Goldberg said, agricultural producers can maximize efficient farming and ranching,

Hormat Shadgou Rhein, a Ph.D. student of Micro Biology, look over large datasets in the Randall Lab with Jennifer Randall, a professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science. August 22, 2019. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

save water, reduce chemical use, solve labor problems, and reduce food waste and contamination.

Currently, 10 faculty members in the College of ACES and the Jornada Experimental Range are leading collaborative research efforts that utilize big data and supercomputing.

Derek Bailey, a professor in the Department of Animal and Range Science, is using GPS tracking and other sensors to monitor the welfare, productivity and sustainability of cattle and sheep on rangelands.

“Our lab is testing real-time and near real-time GPS tracking systems, accelerometer ear tags and other sensors that have promise for use by ranchers,” said Bailey, who has been tracking cattle since 1998. “We combine these on-animal sensors with satellite imagery to simultaneously monitor forage resources and livestock behavior. Our group is working with animal breeding scientists at Colorado State University to identify genetic markers associated with cattle movement patterns grazing rugged rangelands.”

Bailey also plans to develop genomic-based breeding values for cattle terrain use. This will allow ranchers to select animals that use steep slopes and roam areas far from water sources, which are typically avoided. His goal, he said, is to use GPS tracking, sensor monitoring, satellite imagery and genomics to develop “precision livestock management” systems – an approach that requires collecting, processing and analyzing large datasets.

“In the past, we could rely on conventional software and desktop computers,” Bailey said. “With technical improvements of sensors and associated reductions in equipment price, we can now track entire herds of cattle and collect movement data from accelerometers at a rate of 24 hertz.”

In future studies, Bailey hopes to start using drones to collect data. When that time comes, he will join other faculty members, including Niall Hanan, who are already using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in their research.

Hanan, a professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, and his research group are working on environmental and ecological data analysis using cloud-based computing as well as the high-performance computing facilities available at NMSU.

“Our work includes analysis of satellite imagery using Google Earth Engine to better understand vegetation change in the drylands of the southwestern United States, Africa and globally,” Hanan explained. “We also carry out computer-intensive analysis of UAV images and terrestrial lidar data to derive detailed three-dimensional vegetation structure information relevant to the productivity of shrublands in the southwestern U.S. and globally,” he added.

Lara Prihodko, a college associate professor in the Department of Animal and Range Science, works with very large datasets in her research centered on regional and global-scale ecology. Two of her current projects include mapping and modeling tree cover and woody biomass for the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region and modeling regional land surface fluxes, including water, energy and carbon, over the Jornada Basin.

“Our data sets include large geospatial and climate data, such as optical and radar satellite imagery and global climate re-analyses. As satellite systems have developed, data volumes have increased exponentially, Prihodko said, “so we increasingly rely on big-data analysis techniques, high performance computers and cloud computing to process and analyze it.”

Earlier this year, College of ACES Dean Rolando Flores established an interdisciplinary team of 12 researchers from four colleges – ACES, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Business – to collaborate on a white paper focused on developing artificial intelligence for agriculture.

“Over the next several years, these technologies will become increasingly prevalent in farming and ranching operations, which will likely lead to the greatest increase in farming and ranching since mechanization,” Goldberg said. “These problems are complex, and development and implementation of big data and artificial intelligence into agriculture requires researchers from across diverse disciplines to work together for solutions.”

Jennifer Randall, a professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science, was part of the research group that drafted the white paper. She also oversees research in the Randall Lab, which she founded to focus on the genetic and molecular mechanisms of plant development and plant-microbe interactions.

Randall is specifically interested in pecan development, including the molecular mechanisms involved in floral initiation, nutrient acquisition and salinity tolerance, she said.

“We are working with large RNA-sequencing datasets for gene expression elucidation,” she said, noting the big data methods used by her and her students. “Our lab is involved in many collaborative efforts with pecan trees, including genome sequencing efforts, genome-wide association studies with large data sets for marker development.”

At NMSU, Flores said, scientists and engineers are working together in the College of ACES to solve the challenging problems facing farmers, ranchers and food processors in New Mexico.

“Those problems deal with environmental issues, accentuated by global warming, lack of farm and ranch labor that makes our products more expensive and less competitive in global markets, and a plethora of issues that only advanced science and new technologies can solve in agriculture in the years to come,” he said. “However, the College of ACES has taken the challenge and is getting ready to develop solutions to the problems.”

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU

NMSU to Host Sheep, Goat Symposium in Conjunction with Ag Day Degree Program

New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ Ag Day Degree program is expanding this year to include a sheep and goat symposium.

“The sheep and goat symposium is new this year,” said Marcy Ward, NMSU Extension livestock specialist. “We will be covering topics such as nutrition, animal health, reproduction, marketing and predation management.”

The sheep and goat symposium will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday, October 18, and continue the morning of Friday, October 19. The Ag Day Degree program will begin at 1 p.m. Friday, October 19, and conclude Saturday, October 20.

There will be a panel discussion with speakers during dinner Thursday evening.

A certification program in sheep and goat health will be offered Friday morning along with a wool lab.

At 10 a.m. Friday, participants will have an opportunity to become Beef Quality Assurance certified prior to the Ag Day Degree program beginning.

“If people who attend the sheep and goat symposium are interested, they can stay on for this year’s Ag Day Degree program that begins Friday afternoon,” Ward said. “As in years past, we will be getting back into the classroom to learn about animal science and natural resource management.”

Saturday, participants will get hands-on experience during labs focusing on grass and weed identification, calving problems and how to fix them, and reproductive techniques.

“After the Saturday labs, people are invited to stay and enjoy the festivities at the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Ag Day, prior to the NMSU Aggie football game against Georgia Southern University at 4 p.m.,” Ward said.

Both programs will be held in Knox Hall on the NMSU Las Cruces Campus.

Registration for the sheep and goat symposium is $20 and the Ag Day Degree program is $40. If a participant attends both programs the total cost is $50. Online registration is available via the website.

For more information, contact Ward at 575-646-5947 or visit the website

Author: : Jane Moorman – NMSU

NMSU’s Pecan Short Course to be Held October 15-18

The 2018 Western Pecan Production Short Course will be held October 15-18, and will be led by New Mexico State University pecan specialist Richard Heerema.

The first three days of the short course will include lectures that will cover as much of the basics of pecan production as possible from the basic biology of the pecan tree to the marketing and economics of pecans.

“We will have lectures covering just about everything pecan-related,” said Heerema, pecan expert in NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

“We will discuss how to select a pecan orchard site, how to modify a site, how to select pecan varieties and all you need to learn up front. Then we will discuss how to plant a pecan orchard, how to take care of an immature pecan orchard to bring it up to establishment and how to manage a mature orchard. Then it will be followed by pruning, irrigation, nutrition and pest and weed management.”

On the last day of class on October 18, attendees will take a field trip to pecan farms in southwest New Mexico and southeast Arizona. The emphasis of the trip will be the different irrigation systems used.

“The field trip will be a little different this year. We’ve decided to make it a full day trip; we’re going to head to Deming then to the Cotton City area in New Mexico and finally to San Simon, Arizona,” Heerema said. “Our emphasis of the trip will be pressurized irrigation systems.”

Heerema said the new pressurized irrigation systems are becoming increasingly important across the state and he would like for the participants to see firsthand the advantages and disadvantages of these systems.

“One advantage to pressurized systems is that they have much higher application uniformity than flood irrigation, but their management could involve other things that aren’t involved in the irrigation system we are used to. There is also a steep learning curve associated with using any new irrigation system,” Heerema said.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided throughout the short course along with a binder of all the talking points from the lectures.

Those wishing to register can visit the website; space will be limited, so register as soon as possible.

Author: Melissa R. Rutter – NMSU

New NMSU Extension Publication Clarifies Interstate Commerce Transportation Regulation

The recent enforcement of a federal regulation regarding transporting animals across state lines for commerce has confused not-for-profit haulers including 4-H and FFA families.

New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences had created a publication that will help these groups understand the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.

“If you are crossing state lines where the hauling of the animal is involved in making your normal income, then the interstate commerce regulation applies to you,” said Craig Gifford, NMSU Extension Beef Cattle specialist. “Recently, the FMCSA has provided some parameters for enforcing the regulations that has clarified what is not interstate commerce.”

The FMCSA advised that it is not interstate commerce if the trip is an occasional transport of personal property, prize money is not declared as normal income, travel is not deducted as business expense and there are no corporate sponsorships involved.

However, there are some other common misconceptions about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations that the NMSU publication tries to clarify.

“We designed the publication describing requirements for people who typically are not professional for-profit carriers, but who may be transporting livestock, equipment or other items as part of their commercial operations, and who have a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more,” Gifford said.

The federal regulations include:

– Obtaining and displaying a Department of Transportation number on the vehicle.
– Using a log book or electronic logging device to log the driving and non-driving hours.
– Obtaining a commercial driver’s license.

“Common misconceptions include that the requirement of DOT numbers, ELD mandate and CDL are all the same,” said Gifford. “Also that placing a not-for-hire sign on the vehicle exempts that vehicle from these regulations. Also that private agriculture-related activities are all exempt.”

All of these misconceptions are not necessarily true.

“Requirements for CDL, ELD and DOT numbers are all separate,” Gifford said. “Each may have exemptions, but they do not apply to all. For example, ELD exemptions do not apply to DOT number requirements.”

NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service publication Circular 689 explains some of the requirements of the federal regulation for people involved in hauling animals for 4-H or FFA activities and rodeo; and other not-for-hire activities. The publication can be found online.

Author:  Jane Moorman- NMSU

Two NMSU Scholarships Honoring Cervantes Matriarch Support Local Ag, Nursing Students

Two scholarships memorializing one of the Mesilla Valley’s most distinguished female leaders will now honor two local students pursuing agricultural and nursing aspirations at New Mexico State University.

The two Emma Jean Cervantes Endowed Scholarships support students studying within NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the College of Health and Social Services’  School of Nursing. To qualify, recipients must be Doña Ana County natives and have earned at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average.

Recent recipients of this award are Benjamin Miller, NMSU senior horticulture student, and Stephen Montoya, NMSU junior nursing student. For Montoya, receiving this scholarship inspired by a woman so pivotal to his community and New Mexico keeps him motivated to work harder.

“My financial stress is lightened, and I can focus on all of my course work,” Montoya said. “Scholarships are the only way that I am getting through college, and without them, I would be in a very different situation than I am now. A scholarship like this keeps me believing that what I am doing is good and worthwhile.”

Helping these students believe in their work is what sparked the need for Emma Jean Cervantes’ family to honor her legacy and lifetime commitment of compassion and philanthropy at NMSU and across the state. One of her three children, Joseph Cervantes, says he and his siblings noticed their mother’s desire to give back at a young age.

“Our mother had a deep love for the southern New Mexico community and a strong bond with New Mexico State University,” Joseph Cervantes said. “Her commitment to health care and agriculture in our region was clear through her service to this community. As children, we saw her passion for nursing and her singular purpose to improve the lives of others, and we wanted these scholarships to honor her legacy.”

Her career started in health care, serving on the NMSU nursing faculty. Of the many notable contributions to her field, Emma Jean Cervantes advanced diversity as the first female and first nurse on the Memorial Medical Center Hospital Board of Directors that she would eventually chair.

Her devotion to health care led to her having an essential role in the creation of the Mesilla Valley Hospice, First Step Center and the Memorial Cancer Treatment Center in Las Cruces.

“She was educated and trained in the medical field and felt a strong responsibility to strengthen the health care available in the local community,” Joseph Cervantes said. “Yet, she was also born into agriculture and genuinely loved the wonderful gifts and experiences that come along with being a member of a rural farming community. There was never really a point in her life that she was not involved in both.”

Her ancestral roots in agriculture growing up on the La Mesa family farm never escaped her passions. She later transitioned into serving as president of both J.F. Apodaca Farms and Cervantes Enterprises Inc., leading women in agriculture and specializing in growing chile peppers used to produce Louisiana-style hot sauce.

She was an original founder of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum and served 20 years on the Chile Pepper Institute Board of Directors. NMSU later honored Emma Jean Cervantes’ leadership in agriculture with the Philip Leyendecker Agriculturist of Distinction Award in 1996.

“Her involvement in both the health care and farming industries created an opportunity for her to nurture personal relationships with people who, ultimately, provided her with a lifetime of joy and happiness,” Joseph Cervantes said. “Our family has been fortunate to have had the privilege to fund these scholarships and assist the outstanding students who receive them. Certainly, we wish the recipients the best of luck in their chosen career paths and hope they reserve some time for service to their community, remaining actively involved with NMSU after they graduate.”

For more information about this scholarship and others, please visit

Author – Angel Mendez – NMSU

NMSU Researcher Aims to Educate Public about Bed Bug Prevention

You may think the best way to deal with a bed bug problem is to only use insecticides. But many people often overlook the importance of using non-chemical methods and, more importantly, preventing the bugs in the first place. This is particularly critical in multi-unit housing buildings where bed bugs are very difficult to eliminate.

Alvaro Romero, from New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, is working with other researchers to educate the public about preventing bed bugs.

Although many fieldwork studies have been completed in multi-unit housing in the last decade, Romero said researchers have seen that treatments often fail to completely eradicate infestation from these environments. This has led researchers on a different path of improving the approach to dealing with these pests.

“We went from only using insecticides heavily in the very beginning, to incorporating multiple tactics in order to make this program more effective,” he said. “It’s what we call integrated pest management.”

An assistant professor of urban entomology in NMSU’s Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science, Romero is the lead author on a report published May 31 in the Entomological Society of America’s Journal of Integrated Pest Management.

“This report is part of collaborative efforts of researchers from eight western states funded through a grant from the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Romero said.

“The first phase of our project was to identify the prevalence of pest management practices for bed bugs among tenants, landlords, managers and pest management professionals in the West. This information has served as baseline data to identify knowledge gaps and problems that help to define applied research goals for regional bed bug management. The next phase is to develop, compile and disseminate educational resources for multi-family housing and other built environments.”

The report – titled “Bed Bugs: Proactive Pest Management Critical in Multi-Unit Housing” – describes several approaches to managing bed bugs, including detection and monitoring, which is the most important component of successful integrated pest management programs. The report also describes the use of a variety of non-chemical methods, such as:

– Clutter reduction
– Interceptors, or bed bug traps
– Placing encasements in mattresses and box springs
– Laundering
– Steam treatment
– Vacuuming

“It’s difficult – almost impossible – to eradicate bed bug infestations in these particular environments,” Romero said. “A further step to manage bed bug problems is to have more involvement from the public, including residents, staff and managers.”

Romero said early detection is the key. And because many people in assisted living centers may be disabled, blind or wheelchair-bound, cooperation from staff is necessary to implement effective integrated pest management programs.

In addition to cooperation, education is vital in addressing the bed bug problem. Through outreach efforts, Romero and his collaborators plan to inform the public how to identify bed bugs and prevent infestations.

“We want to make available many documents that we consider extremely necessary, because education is a key point to bed bug management,” he said.

Romero said social behavior among humans is an important factor as well.

“Clutter, books under the bed – all those locations represent potential living areas for bed bugs,” he said. “And the most common way to transport bed bugs from one place to another is through the exchange of second-hand furniture.”

While people may balk at the cost and labor associated with integrated pest management programs, addressing infestations at early stages is actually less expensive and more economically viable in the long term, as it requires fewer insecticides and treatments, as with a reactive approach.

“We’re going to see the benefits of these programs in the long term,” Romero said. “If you effectively deal with bed bugs today – in multi-unit housing, for example – the next year you’re most likely going to see fewer cases of bed bugs.”

Romero said there is an abundance of information available to educate the public, especially on university websites.

The NMSU Cooperative Extension Service publication “Sleep Tight! Don’t let the Bed Bugs Bite! Practical Information for Dealing With and Eliminating Bed Bugs” is available HERE.

Virginia Tech has information available specific to the hotel industry, to the multi-unit housing industry and to schools. Click HERE for more information.

To view the Entomological Society of America’s Journal of Integrated Pest Management report by Romero and his colleagues in its entirety, click HERE.

Author:  Kristie Garcia – NMSU

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

Video+Story: NMSU Floral Students Design their Way into the Future

You never know when you’re going to need a centerpiece, houseplant, succulent or specialty floral arrangement. When you do, you may not need to look any further than the New Mexico State University Floriculture Program.

Students in the floriculture program and on the intercollegiate floral team are constantly working on floral projects as part of their learning process and to enhance their creativity. The students prepare projects for competitions, events, silent auctions and weekly sales.

Part of the NMSU Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, the floriculture program falls under the horticulture degree program. Sabine Green, NMSU Floriculture Program Coordinator, said there are many advantages for the students in the program.

New Mexico State University Floriculture Program students Hanah Rheay (left) and Donna Farmer prepare roses for a flower arrangement. (NMSU photo by Kristie Garcia) JAN17
New Mexico State University Floriculture Program students Hanah Rheay (left) and Donna Farmer prepare roses for a flower arrangement. (NMSU photo by Kristie Garcia) JAN17

“Students benefit from being in the floriculture program in that they get a different faction of plant science as part of their degree,” Green said. “And when they go into the NMSU Floral Team and they compete, they’re eligible for things such as scholarships to design schools, scholarships to go to graduate school, and there’s a huge amount of networking that happens when we go to competitions. Many of the students already have contacts for potential jobs once they graduate.”

Green said any student at NMSU may become a member of the floral team.

“It’s really open to anyone who’s part of the NMSU community,” Green said. “But we do encourage that they actually take Horticulture 240 and 241.”

Horticulture 240 is the floral quality evaluation and design course, and Horticulture 241 is the floral field practicum.

Belle Morrow, both a theater arts and hotel, restaurant and tourism management major, said the hands-on experience in the floriculture program will help in her future career.

“It gives you a creative edge over students that may only learn out of a textbook and not get any hands-on learning,” Morrow said. “By being on the floral team and in the floral classes, you learn how to take instruction while providing your own influence and your own creativity. I think that will help me in my career in hospitality, either as a floral designer or as an event planner.”

New Mexico State University Floriculture Program student Belle Morrow (left) and program coordinator and certified floral designer Sabine Green sort through various flowers. (NMSU photo by Kristie Garcia) JAN17
New Mexico State University Floriculture Program student Belle Morrow (left) and program coordinator and certified floral designer Sabine Green sort through various flowers. (NMSU photo by Kristie Garcia) JAN17

Donna Farmer is majoring in individualized studies with an emphasis on horticulture. She said she’ll be more prepared for a career after being in the program and on the team.

“I have a dream to have a 10-acre commercial flower farm with a bed and breakfast in the middle,” Farmer said. “Being part of this program

and part of the team has taught me all the tools I feel I will need to be a successful grower and provider of floral products.”

Farmer said the program and team have provided her with more than just hands-on experience.

“This experience has also taught me fellowship, survival skills, friendship and mentorship,” she said.

Due to Green receiving full induction into the American Institute of Floral Designers as a Certified Floral Designer, the intercollegiate floral team is now able to compete nationally in the AIFD collegiate competition. Only collegiate teams with a certified coach may participate in the national competition.

New Mexico State University Intercollegiate Floral Team members use various flowers for arrangements they sell throughout the year. (NMSU photo by Kristie Garcia) JAN17
New Mexico State University Intercollegiate Floral Team members use various flowers for arrangements they sell throughout the year. (NMSU photo by Kristie Garcia) JAN17

Chemical engineering and horticulture major Hanah Rheay enjoys the opportunity to create and design throughout the year.

“What I enjoy most about being part of the NMSU Intercollegiate Floral Team is being able to create so many different products and provide so many different designs for events and the NMSU community,” Rheay said.

Floral team members and students in the horticulture floral design course have flower arrangements available for purchase on campus weekly during the academic year. The flower sale is held in the lobby of Gerald Thomas Hall from 9 to 11:30 a.m. each Wednesday of the semester.

Customers may bring their own vase and purchase by the stem, or they may choose from a variety of pre-made arrangements. The cost ranges from $5 to $40, depending on each customer’s needs.

Proceeds benefit the floral team and help with competition travel expenses and flowers used for mock contests and floral design practice.

For more information about the floral team or program, contact Green at 575-646-3662 or You may also stay up to date by visiting the floral team’s Facebook page at

Author:  Kristie Garcia – 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

Video+Story: NMSU Plans to Partner with Service Dog Organization

The New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is in the process of establishing a partnership with Paws and Stripes, a nonprofit organization in Albuquerque that provides service dogs to wounded military veterans.

Gaylene Fasenko, associate professor in the NMSU Department of Animal and Range Sciences, first learned about Paws and Stripes when she arrived at the university in 2010, the same year the nonprofit opened its doors.

The organization, which only takes dogs from local rescues, specifically provides service dogs for wounded military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Paws and Stripes integrates service dog training and education with mental health support.

Fasenko and the college invited Paws and Stripes to take part in her companion animal and human-animal interaction (HAI) class, as well as in a lecture for the public at Atkinson Recital Hall last month.

Both the class lecture and the public lecture were on Veterans Day and were part of NMSU Military and Veterans Appreciation Week. The featured speaker was military veteran Rachael Thompson, accompanied by her service dog, Myrna.

Fasenko said the presentation in her class had a powerful impact on the students.

“I can teach all day long about the symptoms of PTSD, and I can demonstrate what I heard from someone else about hugging a wall and being so hyper-vigilant that you can’t turn your back on an open space,” Fasenko said. “But until you hear firsthand from someone who’s going through this, you don’t realize the severity. It’s one of the most powerful lectures you will ever hear.

“It helps the students realize there’s a lot of people in this country that truly devote their lives to being part of the military, and then they get hurt as part of their service. It reveals a layer of empathy and a layer of appreciation that we should have.”

With NMSU’s new HAI minor, this is the ideal time to begin the partnership. The minor is intended to augment the academic path for students who plan to pursue a career in animal science, as well as human health and wellness fields, such as criminal justice, early childhood education, special education, occupational therapy, psychology, social work or family and consumer sciences.

Stephanie Barger, director of programs for Paws and Stripes, said a partnership with NMSU is important because of the potential for research opportunities pertaining to service dogs.

“In the academic world, there is very little research on service dogs, particularly those that help people with PTSD and TBI,” Barger said. “Researching the benefits can only be a positive thing. We are very enthusiastic, and we love working with academia and teaching people about service dogs, especially those who help veterans with PTSD and TBI.”

Fasenko envisions the partnership to include visits by veterans and their service dogs to her classes, lectures for the public, internships with the nonprofit and perhaps even Skype sessions. She said it would be an invaluable learning opportunity for her students and the NMSU community in general. Information about service dog and therapy dog training is already part of the companion animal curriculum at NMSU.

Barger said although the partnership is in the early stages, she knows it has the potential to be mutually beneficial.

“We are in early discussions, and it’s important to identify activities and projects that would benefit both NMSU and Paws and Stripes,” Barger said. “I’m hopeful we can provide educational presentations and subject-appropriate lessons for the classroom.”

Another connection has developed between the university and the nonprofit. NMSU alumna Dianna Franco took various companion animal classes with Fasenko. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in individualized studies in 2014, she was offered an internship opportunity with the nonprofit. She’s now part of the Paws and Stripes dog training team.

Franco said studying various subjects at NMSU helped prepare her for her career.

“Studying multiple areas while at NMSU helped prepare me for this career, because they exposed me to disabilities, human anatomy and physiology, the science behind training animals and how animals can be helpful to people with disabilities,” Franco said. “I also spent two years volunteering with the NMSU Therapeutic Riding Association, which gave firsthand experience on how powerful the human-animal bond is. Working for Paws and Stripes has required extensive on-the-job training, but having the varied background that I have from NMSU has helped in many ways.”

Both Fasenko and Paws and Stripes personnel want the public to see the science behind service dogs – it’s not just about dogs doing tricks. A dog may be trained to perform tasks such as serving as a buffer, alerting its owner of an approaching person or awakening the owner from severe nightmares.

For more information about NMSU’s companion animal program, please contact Fasenko at 575-646-3402 or Anyone interested in donating to the companion animal program should make checks payable to NMSU Foundation and indicate the Companion Animal Fund in the memo line. Checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 3590, Las Cruces, NM 88003. For more information, contact the NMSU Foundation office at 575-646-1613.

To learn more about the program click Paws and Stripes.

Author: Kristie Garcia – 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

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU to host Western Pecan Production Short Course in October

This fall, New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will host the 2016 Western Pecan Production Short Course. The short course, which will teach the public about pecan production, will be held Oct. 17-19 at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces. The registration fee is $350.

The short course is intended to help farmers increase yields, quality and profitability of pecan orchards. Topics to be covered during the short course range from orchard site selection and tree planting to irrigation and pest control to marketing. In addition to presenters from NMSU, speakers from the University of Arizona, University of Georgia and New Mexico Department of Agriculture also will make presentations.

“This course will greatly benefit experienced and inexperienced farmers alike,” said Richard Heerema, NMSU extension pecan specialist. “Furthermore, I would encourage pecan farmers to send their farm managers and even their children who may be interested in continuing farming.”

Continuing Education Units will be available for growers holding pesticide applicators licenses in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. This will be the fourth time NMSU has offered this short course, which has been held every other year since 2010.

To register visit The course’s agenda will be posted at a later date.

Author:  Tiffany Acosta – NMSU

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