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New Mexico State University

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Cervantes, Cox and 15 Students Receive NMSU Awards

LAS CRUCES -- Emma Jean Cervantes, a La Mesa chile grower and processor, and Rob Cox, a local rancher, received awards from New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Apr. 18, during the college's annual Awards Day ceremony.


Cervantes received the Philip J. Leyendecker Agriculturist of Distinction Award and Cox received the New Mexico Outstanding Leadership Award.

Cervantes is a La Mesa native and director of Cervantes Enterprises, a diversified farming operation of about 1,200 acres started by her father in the 1920s. She grows chile, onions, lettuce, cabbage, cotton, alfalfa, grains and pecans and also manufactures Cajun-style hot sauce at a chile processing plant in Vado.

Her farm was the first in the region to experiment with drip irrigation and the use of chile transplants instead of seeds. She helped establish the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum and cooperates with NMSU scientists by allowing some of her farm land to be used for research plots.

Cervantes serves as chairperson of the Chile Institute, a non-profit international organization based at NMSU committed to educating the world about the wonders of chile. She served 20 years on Memorial Medical Center's Board of Directors and helped establish the Ikard Memorial Cancer Treatment Center and the Mesilla Valley Hospice.

"Her seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy and her admirable leadership abilities make Emma Jean Cervantes a role model for women and men," said John C. Owens, the college's dean and chief administrative officer.

The college also honored Rob Cox, who ranches on the historic W.W. Cox Ranch east of Las Cruces, with the New Mexico Outstanding Leadership Award.

Cox is a Mesilla Valley native who, for the past 20 years, has hired NMSU students to live and work on his ranch while attending the university.

Since 1995, he has served as the chairperson of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, which is committed to documenting and displaying New Mexico's 3,000 years of agricultural history. "Without the dedication and tireless efforts of Rob Cox, this museum would never be built," said Edson Way, museum director.

Cox has been active in the Albuquerque Production Credit Association, the Governor's Task Force for Constitutional Revision, the New Mexico Cattlegrower's Association, the Southwest Grazing Association, and the Farm and Ranch Heritage Foundation.

Upon receiving the leadership award, Cox commended the college's students who also received awards during the ceremony and urged them to continue educating others about agriculture. "These young people are carrying the load for us and it renews my faith in humanity," Cox said.

Outstanding student awards were given to Donita Massey for agriculture and Jennifer McCollum for home economics.

Massey is a 1991 graduate of Dora High School and a founder of the CERES women's agriculture fraternity at NMSU. She served as an ambassador for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to recruit new students and lobby the state legislature for college funding.

She also was a member of the college's speaker's bureau and the National Agri-Marketing Association chapter, which was named national outstanding chapter at a recent competition in San Diego.

Massey will graduate in May with her bachelor's in agricultural economics with a communications emphasis.

McCollum, an Oregon native and graduate of Fairfield High School in Boulder, Colo., is a long-time member of the Dean's List for academic achievement. She also is a member of the national honor society Golden Key and received the Dean's Award of Excellence for undergraduate students in 1995.

During her college career, McCollum has been a member of the Horticulture Forum, the Student Dietetic Association and Phi Kappa Phi. She also sang with the NMSU choir and traveled to England in 1995 to perform with the group.

McCollum will graduate in December 1996 with majors in both horticulture, and human nutrition and food science.

Undergraduates receiving the Dean's Award of Excellence were Reid Schwebach, of McIntosh; Charmyn Wiley, of Clayton; Fabian Rodriguez, of Las Cruces; Tisha Massey, of Animas; Albert Herrera, of Albuquerque; Loralee Woods, of Broadview; Kendal Kohler, of Folsom; Gregory Daviet, of Phoenix; and Brent Racher, of San Patricio.

Graduate students who received the Dean's Award of Excellence were Rami Kridli, of Jordan; Jorge Osuna Garcia, of Mexico; Elizabeth Knapp, of Bowie, Md.; and Valerie Truax, of Ft. Davis, Texas.

During the morning ceremony, the following college faculty and staff members were honored: Javier Vargas, Distinguished Service Award; Frank Ward, Distinguished Research Award; Merrilyn Cummings, Distinguished Teaching Award; James Duffey, Distinguished Extension Award; Lupe Mirabal, Distinguished Classified Staff Award; and Robert Torres, National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Award of Merit.

Faculty senators receiving awards for their service were Clyde Eastman, Jill Schroeder and David Smith.