NMSU’s partnership with La Semilla project earns national recognition from APLU

New Mexico State University is again being nationally recognized for its institutional commitment to community engagement. The university is one of five schools that were designated “exemplary awardees” by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities during its selection process for the 2016 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award.

NMSU faculty Lois Stanford and two others work in a field
Lois Stanford, left, associate professor of anthropology at NMSU, is the recipient of the 2016 Community Engagement Faculty Award. Stanford serves communities of southern New Mexico as president of the board of directors for La Semilla Food Center, and the partnership has been designated an “exemplary awardee” by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities during its selection process for the 2016 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award. Stanford is pictured here with La Semilla staff member Rebecca Munoz, middle, and Olga Pedroza, a Las Cruces council representative and La Semilla board member. (Courtesy photo)
NMSU faculty Lois Stanford and Chancellor Garrey Carruthers
New Mexico State University anthropology associate professor Lois Stanford, right receives her Community Engagement Faculty Award from Chancellor Garrey Carruthers. (NMSU photo)

The award, established in partnership with the Engagement Scholarship Consortium and with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities.

Earlier this year, NMSU’s Lois Stanford, an associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, was the recipient of the university’s first Community Engagement Faculty Award for her work with La Semilla Food Center, a non-profit organization founded by some of her former students.

As the Community Engagement Faculty Award winner, Stanford was chosen to represent NMSU as a candidate for the 2016 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award.

La Semilla was established in 2010 with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Over six years, La Semilla has taught hundreds of elementary and middle school students how to grow and cook fresh food while establishing a 14-acre education and demonstration farm in Anthony, New Mexico. La Semilla also works with youth and families to create community gardens, construct greenhouses and launch educational projects and community food assessments in the El Paso del Norte region.

Stanford serves the area as president of the board of directors for La Semilla Food Center. She provides lectures, teaches in some of the youth programs, helps write grant proposals and assists the center in its efforts to work with different community organizations. The partnership between NMSU and La Semilla also involves graduate and undergraduate research projects and employment placement for anthropology graduates.

In partnership with NMSU’s College of Agriculture, Stanford is also investigating the conservation and revival of traditional Navajo gardening along the San Juan River, and has begun a collaborative project with Albuquerque’s Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute’s culinary program.

Finalists for the Magrath Award are East Carolina University, Pennsylvania State University, Portland State University and Purdue University. A winner will be announced in November.

This year’s award also includes an inaugural class of five “exemplary awardees” – including New Mexico State – that were named in recognition of their outstanding efforts. Those institutions, which also include Cornell University; University of Tennessee, Knoxville; University of Missouri Extension; and University of Nebraska at Omaha — will be recognized at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s Annual Conference.

“It is an honor for both La Semilla Food Center and New Mexico State University to receive this recognition from the APLU,” Stanford said. “For NMSU, as a Hispanic-serving, land-grant institution, this credit reflects growing efforts to support sustainable agriculture and build collaborative partnerships in minority communities. For me, personally, it is always a pleasure to participate in these efforts and use my position as a cultural anthropologist to build collaborative partnerships between NMSU and local residents through community engagement projects.”

La Semilla was founded by NMSU alumni Aaron Sharratt and Rebecca Wiggins-Reinhard, as well as Cristina Dominguez-Eshelman, former coordinator of NMSU’s Frontier Interdisciplinary Experiences program. It was an outgrowth of the trio’s efforts with the Colonias Development Council, where they worked with youth and their families in Vado, Anthony and Chaparral, New Mexico, to build community gardens, construct greenhouses and create youth development and educational projects.

“For La Semilla,” Stanford said, “this recognition serves to acknowledge the important contribution that this non-profit organization and its staff make to the local community and region through concerted efforts to promote local foodsheds, improve youth education for healthy lifeways, and develop regional food policy that supports local food production.”

NMSU Vice President for Economic Development Kevin Boberg, who co-chairs NMSU’s Community Engagement Council along with Cooperative Extension Service Director Jon Boren, said the partnership truly exemplifies community engagement, because it’s a collaboration between an institution of higher education and the communities that it serves, creating an exchange of knowledge and resources that benefits everyone.

“This is what we are about as a land-grant institution,” Boberg said. “This collaboration crosses from students to faculty and back again – likewise between community and campus. Together, they provide the ingredients for sustainability in our region.”

In 2015, NMSU was designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the APLU and its Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity. The designation acknowledges universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.

NMSU also received a 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. NMSU is one of 361 colleges and universities nationwide – and the only one in New Mexico – to carry the Community Engagement Classification, which recognizes institutional commitment to programs and partnerships with community impact.

For more about NMSU’s commitment to community engagement, visit http://engagement.nmsu.edu


Is Brexit the end of the world?


By Mel Gurtov

To judge from a New York Times front-page article that appeared two days after the British vote to withdraw from the EU, the entire post-World War II global financial and political structure that the United States led into existence is now imperiled.  Western democracy, financial institutions, liberal trade and immigration policies, and alliances are all under challenge now.  Right-wing populism is pushing forces opposed to all these arrangements, especially when they are presided over by a supranational structure such as the European Union (EU) that may impinge on national interests.  In short, the article contends, Brexit will not only dramatically reduce Great Britain’s influence, economic growth, and even size (if Scotland gains independence); it will turn the world as we know it upside down.  I think it is much too early to sound the alarm bell.

To be sure, the impact on the United Kingdom is bound to be severe and long-term.  It will now be “on the other side of the negotiating table” from the EU, as one observer said.  That means prolonged and potentially painful new trade, travel, and work arrangements that will end up costing British consumers and firms dearly. Both the Conservative and Labour parties will be in turmoil for some time, their leaders blamed for failure at the polls and new leaders struggling to find a way out of a huge mess.  Social conflict may escalate, particularly anti-immigrant violence.

But will Britain’s pain extend to others?  The EU may well be weakened as it loses a major international player, particularly when it comes to dealing with Russia over Ukraine and Syria, China over human rights and trade, and large-scale economic assistance to troubled economies such as Greece’s.  Even more fundamentally, Brexit may be imitated, as nationalist parties in France, Netherlands, and Sweden gain followings for closing their doors to refugees and pulling out of the EU.  In the worst case, we might see the renewal of autarky and the emergence of dominant right-wing, neo-fascist parties (look at the recent vote in Austria and Marine Le Pen’s rising popularity in France)—echoes of prewar Europe.

It is far too early, however, to indulge in worst-case thinking.  At the least, it remains to be seen whether Britain and other countries embrace trade protectionism or liberalization.  It remains to be seen whether the UK becomes “Little Britain,” a bit player on international political and economic issues, or continues to be a strong voice in NATO, the World Bank, and other multilateral organizations.  It remains to be seen whether Britain’s economy shrinks badly or, as the chancellor of the exchequer maintains, has in place the tools to weather the coming storm and sustain a strong economy.  It remains to be seen if the EU can close ranks, demonstrate the value of integration, and continue to be a prominent international voice on climate change and human rights.  It remains to be seen whether the imitation effect of Brexit actually comes about elsewhere in Europe, not to mention in the UK itself.  Le Pen may appear to have a clear road to the prime ministership in France, for instance, but she, like Trump, may face strong reactions against the National Front’s thinly disguised racism, France-first sloganeering, and promises to overturn the ideals of multiculturalism and community.

And if you want to think about worst cases, consider the possibility—slight now, but perhaps much greater in coming months—that Brexit causes so much pain for the British people that populism turns against it.  According to the Washington Post, three million Brits (and climbing steadily) want another referendum on leaving the EU. That’s very unlikely at the moment, but if negotiations with the EU result in a further dramatic fall of the pound, sliding middle-class income, high unemployment, and other developments that put the British economy in the tank, might not the next British PM have to call for new elections and another referendum?

Key figures in the “leave” EU campaign are already walking back some advertised promises, such as that the approximately £350 million a week that Britain sends to the EU would be used to fund the national health system, or that immigration to Britain would actually go down.  An intriguing comment in the Guardian under the name “Teebs” raises another possibility: that David Cameron, having resigned without giving official notice of British withdrawal under Article 50 of the EU treaty, has left his successor with the option of treating the Brexit vote as a nonbinding referendum which Parliament, dominated by “remain” members, can ignore.  Well, who knows?  Even Boris Johnson, a vociferous Brexit supporter and likely Cameron successor, has said there’s no need to hurry about invoking Article 50.  Maybe he wants to see if his optimism about Brexit during the leave-or-remain campaign was actually warranted!

What about the impact of Brexit on the US?  Yes, there will be an impact: the Trans-Pacific Partnership may be dead whoever wins the presidential election, since Hillary Clinton had long since promised to renegotiate it and now must contend with Bernie Sanders’ pressure to abandon the TPP altogether.  US exports are likely to suffer some (though Britain is not among the top US markets), the US trade deficit will widen some, and Tea Party-ers may feel a surge of energy.  But most observers I’ve read do not see a major threat to the US economy from Brexit; and people who believe that Donald Trump’s “America First” message will get a great boost from Brexit are going to be sorely disappointed, since virtually every day he says something that reminds us of just how un-American his message is.

We also ought to consider Brexit’s potential silver linings for the US, at least “silver” from a human-interest point of view. One is that Britain will probably substantially reduce its concrete support of US policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.  Such a shift, though disputed by some leaders of the “leave” campaign, would be desirable, since it might prod the next US president to reassess commitments to endless war in the Middle East.  On the US domestic side, ditching TPP and reassessing the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would be welcome news for US workers, unions, and many workers abroad, as well as for the environment.  A refocusing of the globalization debate on social and economic justice in the US is sorely needed.  Thanks to Brexit, not to mention Bernie Sanders and many progressive nongovernmental organizations, that debate may finally get somewhere.


Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University and blogs at In the Human Interest.


NMSU to open Passport Acceptance Facility at Garcia Annex


New Mexico State University’s Office of International and Border Programs will open a Passport Acceptance Facility on campus to serve the university community and the general public.

The facility will be located in Room 233A of the Garcia Annex building, located next to Breland Hall. Hours will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning June 14.

The facility at NMSU will be a “one-stop shop” for those applying for or renewing passports. Customers will be able to have their passport photos taken on site, and can also get information on the types of passports available.

“We thought the passport acceptance office would be a great way for us to send the message that we are serious about getting out and seeing the world,” said Cornell Menking, associate provost for International and Border Programs at NMSU. “We think having this office on campus builds a nice connection to the community.”

Menking said the office is an opportunity to get members of the general public to visit NMSU and Garcia Annex, one of the more student service-oriented buildings on campus. Menking said there are plans to include passport applications in new freshman orientation materials, and he hopes every NMSU student will obtain a passport.

For more information about the Passport Acceptance Facility at NMSU, please call 575-646-7041 or visit https://ibp.nmsu.edu/.



SWEC events week of June 13

Raising Shrimp in the Desert—Talk at SWEC June 14th

Come hear about how two Las Cruces-area businesses are pushing the envelope of sustainability by recycling water and waste products to raise shrimp, fish and produce at this Tuesday Talk at SWEC, June 14th, at 7 pm. Read more here

Howling for Wildlife—Benefit Concert by Dana Lyons, June 16th

Don’t miss this one-night only concert by Dana Lyons on Thursday, June 16, at SWEC at 7 pm. Bringing together a mix of comedy, ballads and love songs, Dana’s sharp wit and beautiful voice have him performing at concert halls, festivals, conventions, fundraisers and universities across the US and around the world. Dana’s music style includes a bit of everything. Check out his top hit Cows with Guns here.

Federal judge temporarily halts Mexican wolf releases

In a major setback for endangered Mexican wolves, a federal judge on Friday granted the state of New Mexico’s request for a halt to further releases of wolves by federal officials. Judge William P. Johnson stopped short of requiring that two captive-born wolf pups already placed into a wild wolf litter be retrieved. (Read more here.) The decision probably means that additional releases will not happen this year. Biologists say such releases are urgently needed to rescue Mexican wolves from extinction. NM officials say the feds need a permit to release wolves into NM, but won’t give them one.

Please sign this online petition to send a message to the feds and Governor Martinez that you support more Mexican wolf releases in New Mexico. It will just take a second. Thank you!



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