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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Hosts Forum to Promote Urban High School Agriculture

LAS CRUCES -- With population increasing in urban areas, today's teens are becoming more removed from agriculture. To help introduce agricultural studies into urban high schools, New Mexico State University is hosting the Forum on Agricultural Education in Urban Schools, Jan. 9-11 in Las Cruces.

"Urban areas are where the population base is," said Miley Gonzalez, associate dean and director of academic programs with NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics. "We're hoping to increase urban knowledge about the variety of agricultural careers available."

Gonzalez predicts that biotechnology, equine (horse) science, arid lands management and environmental science will become important agricultural careers in the future. "Urban students with good academic backgrounds in science and mathematics should consider studying agriculture and related sciences," he added.

High school administrators and teachers from Las Cruces and Albuquerque that are interested in introducing agricultural programs into their curriculum have been invited to learn from other metropolitan teachers with successful programs. The forum, sponsored by NMSU and the University of Arizona, is the second of its kind. The initial forum, held in 1995 at Iowa State University, brought representatives from the following six urban high schools together to share ideas: W.B. Saul High School, Philadelphia; Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences, Chicago; Kansas City East Magnet High School, Kansas City, Mo.; Portland Public Schools, Portland, Ore.; Star Academy, Indianapolis; and Carl Hayden Community High School, Phoenix. Representatives from these schools have been invited to the upcoming forum to share their success stories and the challenges they faced while establishing urban agricultural programs.

Forum participants will learn about recruiting students, developing curriculums, obtaining financial support, building relationships with agricultural industries and the community, and developing college preparatory studies to allow credit transfers with colleges and universities. They also will tour local agribusinesses and the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.

"Agriculture is a very important industry in New Mexico," Gonzalez said. "We're hoping to attract students to careers in agriculture, home economics and natural resource management to fill the industry's personnel needs."

For more information about the forum, contact Gonzalez at (505) 646-1807.