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NMSU?s Hougland brings horticultural knowledge to northern pueblos

ALCALDE ? Working for New Mexico State University at the Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde is fulfilling two of Tory Hougland?s career desires ? working at the science center and helping people learn about sustainable agriculture.

Woman handing a man a piece of paper.
Tory Hougland, NMSU Eight Northern Pueblo agricultural agent with the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project, visits with farmer Simon Suina of Cochiti Pueblo, who is a mentor with the Southern Pueblo Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program. (NMSU Photo by Jane Moorman)

Hougland is the newest member of the Cooperative Extension Service?s Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project staff as its Eight Northern Pueblos agricultural agent.

In that role, she is working with farmers and ranchers of the pueblos north of Santa Fe ? Taos, Picuris, Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh, San Ildefonso, Nambe, Pojoaque and Tesuque.

?I enjoy helping to get information to the tribal members,? she said. ?Right now, we are focusing on the Southern Pueblo Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Project to help selected tribal members that have returned to farming after retiring from their careers and young farmers and ranchers just starting out.?

Through that program, she joins the team of Joseph Garcia, Ten Southern Pueblo agricultural agent, and Judy Finley, agriculture and small business development agent, while presenting workshops on a variety of subjects and helping with demonstration projects for the Native Americans farmers and ranchers involved in the program.

Originally from Arizona, Hougland has been living in the Espanola area from the time she was 11 years old. Her family instilled in her a love of plants, which resulted in her earning a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture from NMSU in 1998.

?What interested me about this position, and what I enjoy doing, is the hands-on aspect when showing people what they can produce to eat,? she said.

Working out of the Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde is also fulfilling a dream.

?I?ve always been intrigued by this science center,? she said. ?When I was younger, I came out here looking for a job, but nothing panned out. I feel I have come back to where I wanted to be in the first place.?