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Eight Leaders Made Honorary Members of NMSU's Sam Steel Society

LAS CRUCES -- Eight leaders have been named honorary members of the Sam Steel Society at New Mexico State University.

They are Arden Baltensperger, former head of NMSU's agronomy and horticulture department; Linda Mitchell Davis, corporate vice president of the C-S Ranch in Cimarron; Charles Faubion, owner of Porter-Faubion Company; Johnny Lane, president of Lane's Dairy Inc.; Les Purcella, vocational agricultural teacher at Goddard High School in Roswell; Pete Rahn, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Highway and Transportation Department; Earl Ray, former professor with NMSU's animal and range sciences department; and Tony Romo, former Cooperative Extension Service agent in Valencia County.

Jerry G. Schickedanz, interim dean and chief administrative officer for NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences , presented the honorary memberships Dec. 17.

The society honors the memory of Sam Steel, who would have been the university's first graduate had he not been killed just months before his graduation in 1893.

Baltensperger, of Las Cruces, helped set up the college's doctoral program in agronomy and the Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center. He developed NuMex Sahara, an improved, seeded Bermuda grass. This year, mass retailers like Home Depot and Wal-Mart began selling the grass.

Davis is a fourth-generation New Mexico rancher who has served the state's agricultural industry for decades. She has served on the National Livestock and Meat Board, Beef Industry Council, New Mexico Beef Council and NMSU's Livestock Industry Advisory Committee. Davis received the New Mexico Outstanding Leadership Award from the College in 1987. She was named the New Mexico Cattleman of the Year in 1990 and became the second female recipient of the Golden Spur Award in 1992.

Faubion graduated from NMSU in 1983 with a degree in farm and ranch management. He formerly worked for the National Hay Exchange and operated R & R Spraying. Fabion has served as president of the Cotton Advisory Council and as a board member for the Doņa Ana County Farm Bureau and the Aggie Scholarship Association. He also owns farmland and participates in farming.

Lane has been active in many community and business organizations, including the El Paso Rotary Club. He was Rotary district governor from 1996 to 1997, covering all of New Mexico and West Texas. Lane has been involved in the Sun Bowl Association, Allied Military Host Family Program, Texas A & M Extension, El Paso Dairy Association and the Bank of Ysleta's board of directors.

Purcella has taught at Goddard High School since 1979. Before that, he taught at Hagerman High School and Hobbs High School. He earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural and extension education from NMSU. Purcella has been honored as the state's outstanding agriculture teacher in three different decades.

A longtime supporter of NMSU, Rahn is a past president and 10-year member of the Extension Support Council. He also is past president of the New Mexico Association of Counties and New Mexico County Treasurers' Association. Rahn served as corporate vice president for Kysar Insurance Agency and director of development for San Juan College, both in Farmington. He has received the Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties and the Transportation Research Award.

Ray is a retired NMSU meat scientist and has had three inventions patented. Two patents issued in 1994 dealt with methods for preparing snack food products. An earlier patent for his Mor-Lean technique resulted in leaner, higher meat yield carcasses from male animals. Ray received the college's Distinguished Service Award in 1992. He has served on the college's Long-range Planning Committee and the Research Advisory Committee.

Romo earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in animal science from NMSU. He has served as acting superintendent of NMSU's Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas and as a consultant to international Extension programs. Romo received NMSU's Cole Memorial Award for Service and the college's distinguished Extension and distinguished service awards. He also was honored with the National Association of County Agents Distinguished Service Award. After retirement, Romo served as Valencia County manager.