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Farm and Ranch Museum exhibit explores ag research


The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum (FRHM), 4100 Dripping Springs Road, 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 museum’s north corridor with an opening reception 1:30-4 p.m. Friday, June 2, the museum said in a news release. Rolando Flores, dean of the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, will speak at 1:45 p.m.

“ Farmers and ranchers keep us fed, clothed and sheltered,” FRHM said. “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 NMSU, researchers have increased our quality of life and continue to work towards solving worldwide challenges like hunger and disease.” 

 “NMSU has supported the groundbreaking research and discoveries of several agriculturalists and food scientists,” said FRHM 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 (1923-88) 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 (1932-90), 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,” the museum said. From creating a new variety of crops to making food safe to eat, scientists are working at research farms to make our lives better.”

Exhibit visitors 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, FRHM said.

FRHM is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Admission is free for children ages 3 and under, Farm and Ranch Museum Friends members and senior citizens on Wednesdays; $2 for active U.S. military and veterans; $3 for children ages 4-17; $4 for seniors ages 60 and older; and $5 for adults.

The 47-acre interactive museum brings to life the 4,000-year history of growing food and fiber in this region.

For more information, call 575-522-4100. Visit www.nmfarmandranchmuseum.org.