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Home | Tag Archives: NMSU’s College of Agricultural

Tag Archives: NMSU’s College of Agricultural

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’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

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

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

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