The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces is opening a new exhibit that uses the inspirational stories of seven remarkable individuals to explore the importance of agricultural research in an everchanging world.
“Beyond the Farm: Groundbreaking Agriculture” opens in the north corridor of the Museum on June 2. A free opening reception with refreshments is planned for 1:30 to 4 p.m. Dr. Rolando Flores, dean of the New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, will speak briefly at 1:45 p.m.
Farmers and ranchers keep us fed, clothed, and sheltered. With fewer farmers, less land in agriculture, and more people to feed, the demand to increase efficiency and productivity is clear. Through the support of land grant universities like New Mexico State (NMSU) in Las Cruces, researchers have increased our quality of life and continue to work towards solving worldwide challenges like hunger and disease.
“New Mexico State University has supported the groundbreaking research and discoveries of several agriculturalists and food scientists,” said Farm & Ranch Museum Executive Director Heather Reed. “The individuals featured have a unique story to tell as they overcame challenges, broke barriers, and made contributions to agriculture that paved the way for future scientists and healthier generations.”
The Beyond the Farm exhibit shares the individual stories of a diverse group of people connected to NMSU, including:
— Acclaimed for making chile more accessible to American tastes, Fabián García (1872-1948) is enshrined in the National Agricultural Hall of Fame and the National Hall of Fame for the American Society for Horticultural Science.
— A new immigrant to the United States, Sam Steel (1876-1893) would have been the first graduate of NMSU, then called New Mexico College of Agriculture & Mechanic Arts. A keen scholar, Steel entered college at age 13 and would have received a bachelor’s degree at age 17, had he not been killed just a few months before graduation.
— One of NMSU’s first Spanish-speaking home demonstration agents, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca (1894-1991) overcame many barriers to provide life-changing educational opportunities for low-income New Mexicans living in remote Hispanic and Pueblo communities.
— Roy Nakayama (1923-1988) worked with New Mexico plant breeders and farmers, and conducted research at NMSU for 32 years, making important contributions to the chile and pecan industries.
— Jessie Fitzgerald (1930-2013) grew up on her parents’ remote homestead in New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains. Pushing through various barriers and challenges, she never stopped reaching for her dream of becoming the first female county agricultural agent in the United States.
— If you have a list of foods you deeply crave, you can probably thank Rose Marie Valdes Pangborn (1932-1990), a sensory scientist from Las Cruces who got her start at NMSU. Her research and discoveries left our dinner tables that much more delicious and satisfying.
— Globally acclaimed as a preeminent entomologist and a dedicated humanitarian, Anthony “Tony” Bellotti (1937-2013) was a graduate of NMSU and dedicated his life to improving the nutrition, health, and agricultural sustainability of the world’s populace.
Understanding how these groundbreakers impact our lives and our communities is called “Agricultural Literacy.” From creating a new variety of crops to making food safe to eat, scientists are working at research farms to make our lives better. Guests to the exhibit are also invited to learn about the “Pillars of Agricultural Literacy,” which include agriculture’s relationship with the environment; food, fiber and energy; animals; lifestyle; technology; and the economy.