Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NMSU center at Corona serves as key site for range, livestock research

NMSU center at Corona serves as key site for range, livestock reseach If you want to learn more about livestock management or range management, you may want to visit the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center. Part of New Mexico State University, the CRLRC is centrally located in the state. As the center’s superintendent Shad Cox said, if you draw the letter “X” on a New Mexico map, Corona is at the center of that “X.” Located in both Lincoln and Torrance Counties, the CRLRC specializes in research and graduate student education. Areas of focus include natural resources, livestock nutrition, livestock reproduction and wildlife habitat. Cox has worked at the center for 22 years. He has served as superintendent for the past 10 years and was the senior research assistant before that. He wears many hats in his leadership capacity, from coordinating outreach events to serving as head cook for the United States Beef Academy. An annual event held in July, the beef academy is for young men and women who are interested in learning about the beef industry. Attendees learn about genetics, nutrition, reproduction, animal health, livestock handling and marketing. Major sponsors of the academy included NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service as well as Zoetis and Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension program. This was the second year CRLRC hosted the event. The plan is for the center to become the beef academy’s permanent home. The CRLRC has been home to other events as well, including: – Cowbelles district meeting – Grassfed Livestock Alliance annual meeting – New Mexico Department of Game and Fish annual officers training program – Beyond the Roundtable ranchers’ educational discussions Stirling Spencer, member of the CRLRC/Southwest Center for Rangeland Sustainability Advisory Committee, said the center’s ability to host real-life experiments is one of its greatest values. “The center is a real-life testing ground for theories and laboratory experiments that need to be evaluated against actual environmental and real-time conditions,” Spencer said. “It’s a place where professors, researchers and agencies can test assumptions and theories that can affect the efficiencies and management of rangeland, wildlife and environmental issues.” Advisory committee member Scott Shafer said the center offers very diverse programs for the public. “We’ve created programs that focus strictly on agriculture, as well as renewable energy and water projects,” Shafer said. “We fall in line with NMSU’s Extension Services’ purpose by getting information out – not just to producers – but to people with various backgrounds from all over New Mexico.” Cox hopes that more people will be able to attend multiple-day outreach events at the center if funding is secured to increase overnight accommodations. “With our centralized location in New Mexico, it would be a great opportunity if NMSU is able to provide overnight accommodations for outreach programs,” Cox said. Right now the center only has one cabin on site, which can host four to six people. Two miles down the road is an apartment, and five miles away are two trailers. But Cox said the center would be able to host more educational programs with everything in one area. “We’re developing a campaign to find some outside funding to construct additional cabins and a laboratory to add to the Southwest Center for Rangeland Sustainability, which is our classroom,” he said. “The plan includes four new on-site cabins and eight new cabins in the future.” Spencer agreed increased housing is needed to create a more efficient operation. “My vision is to expand both the center’s capability of long-term housing for researchers and the site laboratory,” Spencer said. Shafer said increasing accommodations for outreach opportunities falls into NMSU’s land-grant mission. “If we can secure funding to add residential structures, groups can come in for multi-day education events and youth camps,” Shafer said. “We’d also be able to improve our working laboratory for scientists and graduate students.” Aside from overnight accommodations, Spencer hopes to see an increased involvement from other entities. “I would also like to involve more governmental agencies, agriculture groups and the members of the public that are involved in environmental and rangeland decisions and policy,” he said. Rolando Flores, dean of NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, said the center has potential to have an impact beyond New Mexico. "This is an example of dedicated management and participation of our advisory board for the benefit of the university, as well as economically as a benefit for agriculture in the state of New Mexico," said Flores. "The center is already internationally known as an outstanding place. This is an opportunity to turn this into a major center for international instruction and research in rangeland sustainability." Established in 1988, the CRLRC operates in coordination with the NMSU Department of Animal and Range Sciences. Discover more at www.corona.nmsu.edu. - 30 -

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