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Home | Tag Archives: NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service

Tag Archives: NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service

NMSU Develops New Food Science, Human Nutrition Ph.D. Program

A new Ph.D. program being developed at New Mexico State University will give students the opportunity to earn a doctoral degree in food science and human nutrition, and will benefit New Mexico-based food processors and human nutrition organizations through innovative research.

The program will be the first of its kind in New Mexico and one of a few in the United States that combine food science and human nutrition into a single Ph.D. program, said Efren Delgado, assistant professor in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department in NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

“Our dream with this program is to make it a leading program for food safety, innovation in research, and teaching and outreach in food science and human nutrition,” said Delgado, who has been spearheading efforts to develop the new program over the past year.

“It will be a strong program with an emphasis on innovative research that will contribute to the economic and social development in the region,” Delgado added. “Our research within the program will directly impact the citizens of New Mexico through direct cooperation with food-processing companies and human nutrition organizations.”

According to Delgado, companies in the food industry expressed support for a Ph.D. program in the Southwest region that focused on food science and human nutrition.

“In our talks with private food-processing companies, there was a strong need for specialists in food science technology, as well as a need to bring people from other states to work for the companies,” he said.

Currently, Delgado said, there are only six Ph.D. programs in the nation that combine food science and human nutrition.

At NMSU, student interest in a such a doctoral program also has been increasing, Delgado said. While NMSU offers master’s programs in both fields of study, the university lacks Ph.D. programs in those areas, meaning students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in either field took part in programs in other departments but had to be co-advised by the Family and Consumer Sciences Department, or they left NMSU for other universities.

“This program will increase our number of graduate students in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department,” he said.

This fall, the program will go to the university for approval, then it will go to the New Mexico Higher Education Department for final approval, Delgado said. While the approval process can vary in length, Delgado remains optimistic that the program’s first cohort of students could begin their coursework as soon as the fall 2019 semester.

Delgado anticipates that the program will take about three years to complete.

As part of the program, students will work directly with NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service, the research-based outreach arm of the College of ACES that has a presence in all 33 counties in New Mexico, and take classes taught by Extension agents.

“These classes will allow students to go out into the communities, to the producers, and see what their needs are,” Delgado said. “We want the students to see that their research can help others.”

Delgado also sees additional benefits in having the program based along the U.S.-Mexico border, considering the newly revamped trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“This will likely intensify the import of food products from Mexico, and the Ph.D. program will support the trade,” he said.

The program also will benefit from three proposed projects by the College of ACES that will be funded through general obligation bonds totaling $25 million, Delgado said.

If approved by voters in November, the funds will be used to construct three new facilities at NMSU’s Las Cruces campus: food science security and safety facility, animal nutrition and feed manufacturing facility and biomedical research center.

The new facilities, Delgado said, will offer a state-of-the-art working and research environment for the new Ph.D. program. For detailed information about the Family and Consumer Sciences Department, visit the FCS website.

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU

Two NMSU Programs Collaborating in Community Garden Projects

Give a person a nutritious meal and you will feed him for a day. Teach him about vegetable gardening you will feed him for life.

Statistically, New Mexicans face two barriers: poverty and people living in places considered a food desert. This contributes to the state’s national ranking of 48th in hunger and food insecurity.

Two programs in the New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences – Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition and the Master Gardener program – are combining efforts to help limited resource New Mexicans learn to garden as a way to supplement their diets with fresh fruits and vegetables.

The collaboration began in June of 2017, with Sally Cassady joining the ICAN Program as a food systems specialist. While obtaining a Master of Public Health from the University of Arizona, she worked at the Tucson Village Farm where she re-discovered her connection with food.

“There is something magical about the process of planting a seed and then it becoming a plant that provides food,” Cassady said.

“We are excited to have Sally onboard to bring gardening education to adults across the state,” said Donna Sauter, director of NMSU’s ICAN Program. “We will be bringing Extension programing to a new audience in New Mexico.”

While Cassady’s focus is on adult gardening, she has introduced a youth curriculum,’Learn, Grow, Eat and Go,’ to the ICAN nutrition educators who are using it to introduce basic plant science and nutrition education to students.

“With this curriculum, you can teach garden education in the classroom whether you have access to a garden or not,” Cassady said of the curriculum created by Texas A&M University’s AgLife Extension Service. “It is designed to help youth understand where food comes from.”

To introduce adults to gardening, Cassady is partnering with NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service specialists and the Master Gardener Program to develop demonstration and community gardens.

Cassady has selected Valencia and Torrance counties to begin the projects.

“These two counties are extreme opposites,” she said. “Valencia County is more urban and has a Master Gardener Program, as well as the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas where a demonstration garden is being established. There are also several community gardens in the county.”

Torrance County is rural with greater distances between residents. Cassady will be collaborating with the county Extension agents and existing community gardens to provide locations for people to learn about raising vegetables.

“We want to see what it will take to establish gardening in the more rural areas. Because of the distance between communities and residents, it may be backyard gardens instead of community gardens,” she said.

Cassady is working with Kelly White, state coordinator of the Master Gardener programs, to provide the six-lesson basic gardening curriculum, ‘Seed to Supper,’ which was originally created by Oregon State University. Cassady is revising the curriculum to address the Southwest growing environment, and to implement the curriculum statewide.

Cassady wants to spark interest in gardening with a small project that eventually connects people with the Master Gardeners and the ‘Seed to Supper’ curriculum.

“To do this, the ICAN nutrition educators are teaching a basic gardening lesson and providing an herb growing kit,” she said. “The idea is to build confidence by helping them successfully grow something and then move on to growing more challenging vegetables.”

“Oregon State also worked with the Master Gardeners to teach garden education to people when they come into the food bank,” Cassady said. “We are working to expand this concept for New Mexico.” Cassady plans to work with food banks as well as community agencies to provide the gardening classes.

New Mexico, Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky and Oregon are collaborating to evaluate the “Seed to Supper” curriculum.

“I am working with so many amazing people to make this happen,” she said. “I’m working with Extension specialists, county agents and community partners. It will take everybody working together to make this happen.”

Author: Jane Moorman –  NMSU

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