The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces pays tribute to women making a difference in New Mexico agriculture with a current, rotating wall display in the central corridor of the Museum’s main building.
The exhibit is called “Her Land: Women in Agriculture” and the new, featured exemplar is Fita Witte of Las Cruces.
“Museums typically focus on the stories of our ancestors and their incredible accomplishments,” said Heather Reed, executive director of NM Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum. “We often forget to look around to see that history is unfolding right in front of us within our communities and our state. Her Land spotlights the amazing feats and contributions of modern-day women and showcases the young women working on the future of agriculture. This ongoing project will rotate every few months and will allow us to record history in real time for generations to come.”
The Museum created the exhibit space in 2021. Previous honorees in the exhibit were Felicia Thal of northeastern New Mexico and Sophia Moreno of La Union, N.M.
More about Fita Witte
Fita Witte was raised on a ranch in central New Mexico that has been in her family for seven generations. Her father was a farmer, rancher, and Chimayo weaver. Her mother came from a prominent Hispanic family whose ancestors founded the city of Albuquerque. Her husband, Jerry, was raised on a ranch in north-central New Mexico that belonged to his family for five generations. Jerry and Fita ranched in Lamy, N.M. and in Arizona until Jerry’s father retired in 1974 and the couple moved back to Rowe Mesa and ran the Witte Ranch. They now live in Las Cruces.
The Wittes raised two sons who continue to work in agriculture. Jon lives in Clint, Texas where he raised cattle, cotton, and pecans. Jeff is the Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and lives in Las Cruces where he raises miniature Hereford cattle.
Fita is active in many organizations that support agriculture. She said, “if we don’t tell our story, no one else is gonna tell it for us, and who knows our story better than we do.”
Fita is a member of the Roadrunner CowBelles and served as the president for the New Mexico CowBelles and the State Cook-Off Chair. She has been a member of the American National CattleWomen since 1962 and served as its president in 2008. She was named Outstanding CattleWoman of the Year by the organization in 2015.
Fita is a tireless supporter of the beef industry and agriculture in general. After she and her husband retired from the ranch, she remains active in the CowBelles association and continues to promote agriculture. Fita said she would like to see women who are involved in agriculture become mentors for younger women looking for an active role in the farming and ranching industries. She also hopes to see more emphasis on agriculture in the classroom. “I think the sky’s the limit,” Fita said, for women in agriculture.