Nov. 5, 2021
For nearly as long as NMSU has been an educational institution, we have integrated learning from our classrooms, studios and laboratories into the homes, communities and workspaces of our state. This likely began as soon as Las Cruces College opened its doors in 1888, but our formal efforts date back to at least 1900. Then, New Mexico College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts (on its way to becoming New Mexico State University) began farmers’ institutes. These continued until the Smith-Lever Act was adopted in 1914, which created the Cooperative Extension Service.
Extension, service and outreach are the third leg of our land-grant mission, which also includes education and research and creativity. These three parts of our mission allow faculty and students at land-grant universities to create and share emerging knowledge and creative endeavors with constituents around the state. Our outreach helps build stronger and more economically resilient communities, and these programs involve all of our colleges and touch every county in New Mexico.
Our service, extension and outreach now reach well beyond the Smith-Lever Act’s goal to distribute “useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture and home economics, and to encourage the application of the same.” NMSU excels in sharing culture with our community through performances and art exhibits. We are a presence in community health outreach and our schools. Our service efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic continue to demonstrate the Aggie spirit.
The Cooperative Extension Service network, created to reach every county in New Mexico, is one key asset that NMSU’s academic programs can use. That is exemplified by Aggie Next Step, a partnership with 4-H that works with every college on campus to develop a curriculum for delivery to students from eighth to 12th grade. This curriculum is rich in content from NMSU academic departments that will help students prepare for college and careers. It also develops students’ skills that transfer across academic disciplines, like problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork and personal responsibility. When this program is fully developed, it will familiarize hundreds of students annually with NMSU, facilitating their transition to higher education.
While it can be difficult to document the effects of outreach, Arrowhead Center’s work in promoting entrepreneurship, commercialization and rural economic development created 1,500 jobs in New Mexico in the year ending June 30, 2021. The center’s efforts resulted in $217 million in value-added production and generated $46 million in state and federal taxes. Arrowhead’s programs are particularly strong in promoting innovation through Innoventure, Sprints and Studio G, which works with 18 universities and colleges in New Mexico and west Texas.
Some of NMSU’s best practices around service, outreach and extension will be showcased at the second annual NMSU Outreach Conference, set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Corbett Center Student Union ballrooms. You can register at this link.
Be Bold. Be Kind. Be Safe. Go Aggies!
John Floros, Ph.D.
BE BOLD. Shape the future.