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NMSU alumnus, award winner manages spectacular wildlife refuge

Imagine having a job that allows you to wake to the sight of tens of thousands of birds rising into the air against a natural tapestry of water, color and light. New Mexico State University alumnus Kevin Cobble doesn?t have to imagine it. He is the refuge manager at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro.

Man from the waist up in a field
NMSU alumnus Kevin Cobble, the refuge manager at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, was named NMSU Alumni Association?s Distinguished Alumni and James F. Cole Award recipient. (Courtesy photo)
Flock of geese taking flight
A flock of snow geese takes flight on a cold January morning at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro. (NMSU photo by Darrell J. Pehr)
Sandhill crane walking on water
A sandhill crane gets a running start as it takes off in the first light of morning at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. (NMSU photo by Darrell J. Pehr)

Cobble, who graduated from New Mexico State University with a degree in Wildlife Science in 1978, is the recipient of this year?s Distinguished Alumni award.

?Receiving my degree from NMSU led to my dream of working on wildlife refuges and what have been some of the greatest experiences of my life,? Cobble said.

An active member of Ducks Unlimited, Cobble is an advocate of the international nonprofit organization 501(c) dedicated to the conservation of wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife and people.

Throughout his career, Cobble has helped many NMSU students gain beneficial wildlife experience while working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ?I think it is important to try and give other NMSU students starting their careers in wildlife science the same opportunities I had.?

His career began with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a temporary employee upon graduation, and has worked his way up the ranks. Cobble has worked at both fish hatcheries and wildlife refuges throughout New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

That?s not all he does. He is a red-carded advanced firefighter with Engine Boss certification. He also has been a collateral duty law enforcement officer, and participated in relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ike and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Cobble has served as refuge manager of three wildlife refuges: San Bernardino NWR near Douglas, Arizona; San Andres NWR near Las Cruces, New Mexico; and now Bosque del Apache.

The 27th Annual Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is coming up November 18-23. The festival provides an opportunity for visitors to take tours of the refuge and glimpse the breathtaking sights of wild birds, animals and wetlands. There is a $5 daily entrance fee per car at the refuge and festival tours and workshops have varying prices in addition to the entrance fee. Registration is required at http://www.festivalofthecranes.com. For more information, call 575-835-2077 or email festival@sdc.org.

This month the refuge is one of 20 contenders being considered in the Best Birdwatching category as part of a contest in USA Today. Voting ends Monday, Nov. 10 and winners will be announced Wednesday, Nov. 12. http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-birdwatching/bosque-del-apache-n-m/ .