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NMSU Extension names Patrick Torres Northern District department head

New Mexico State University?s Cooperative Extension Service has named Patrick Torres as its new Northern District department head.

Man standing in front of bookcase with awards
New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service has named Patrick Torres, former Santa Fe County Extension director, as the new Northern District department head. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

?Working for the New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service in the Northern District, Patrick Torres brings many years of experience to the position of Northern District department head,? said Jon Boren, associate dean of NMSU?s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental and director of the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service.

?We are certainly fortunate to have Patrick providing leadership in the Northern District, and he will undoubtedly continue serving the faculty, staff and clientele of northern New Mexico in the way that exemplifies Extension?s mission of improving the lives of New Mexicans,? Boren said.

Torres will draw on his 27 years of experience with NMSU Cooperative Extension Service as he works with the county directors in Bernalillo, Cibola, Los Alamos, McKinley, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Taos, Torrance and Valencia counties and the Tribal Extension in the Navajo Nation.

?My role will be to help county directors address budgetary issues, as well as personnel management issues and program development,? said the native of Taos County. ?I will also serve on the Extension administrative cabinet.?

Torres has served as a county Extension agent since 1988, when he began as Rio Arriba County?s 4-H agent. He moved into the adult agricultural program in 1989 while still at Rio Arriba County.

?Working in Extension is about making a difference in people?s lives,? he said. ?We are teaching them new skill sets that are going to benefit their agricultural or business operation profitability or the quality of their life.?

In 1993, he transferred to Santa Fe County, where he served as agricultural agent and county director until January 2014, when he became the Northern District interim department head.
?This was not something I aspired to do,? he said of his new position. ?But the opportunity arose, and I decided to step up and meet the challenge.?

Torres? main goal as district department head is to continue to foster the teamwork approach between the counties? agents.

?I want to help the agents to succeed,? he said of his work with the NMSU faculty who are stationed in the 13 counties in his district. ?That?s my first and foremost goal.?

As a county agent, Torres served on the National Association of County Agricultural Agents board as the Western Region director.

?That in itself was a great experience,? he said. ?I got to visit several Western states and visit with their agents to learn about their programs and the issues they faced. Then I was able to share their program needs at the national level.?

Torres has been involved with several New Mexico initiatives, including the Small Farm and Ranch Task Force.

?I was serving as chair when we received funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project, which delivers economic development, value-added agriculture and sustainable agriculture educational programs to the 19 pueblos and to under-served farmers and ranchers in the Northern District.?

He has also been involved in two programs to assist New Mexico?s agricultural industry ? the Organic Farming Conference held annually in February, and the New Mexico Youth Ranch Management Camp held at the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

?Organic farming has been a growing industry,? he said. ?The conference has helped fill a niche that NMSU Extension is somewhat limited to in resources to address the growing need. Through the collaboration with partners, particularly the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Organic Program, formerly the New Mexico Organic Commodities Commission, and Farm To Table, we have been able to help address some of those educational needs of that growing industry.?

Creating the youth ranch management camp was a response to the ranching industry?s request to help raise interest in the next generation of ranchers.

?In agriculture, we have a constant aging population,? he said. ?Fewer and fewer people are entering the profession. The camp helps open the eyes of our youth as to career possibilities in agriculture.?