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Communications, technology groups bring more than 450 members to Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE - An international organization of communicators and information technology professionals will gather in Albuquerque for four days of hands-on learning, networking and awards during their annual meeting June 16-19.


Members of the Association for Communication Excellence and the National Extension Technology Conference will also honor New Mexico author Tony Hillerman and hear from two speakers, including award-winning Native American journalist Marley Shebala and futurist Dr. Lowell Catlett, dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State University.

ACE members are primarily writers, editors, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, electronic media producers, marketing and public relations practitioners, researchers, Web developers, database programmers, distance education specialists, educators and managers. They work in universities, government agencies and research organizations, as well as companies in the private sector.

Most NETC members work in information technology for the Cooperative Extension Service at land-grant universities, but the group also includes people who simply have an interest in those areas in higher or continuing education.

Terry Canup, an NMSU program development specialist and one of the meeting organizers, said participants will come from across the U.S. and include numerous members from Canada and international research institutes, such as the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya.

"It's an international organization," Canup said.

NMSU and the memberships of ACE and NETC in Arizona and California are hosting the event, which will be headquartered at the Embassy Suites Albuquerque. The two organizations meet together in odd years and separately in even years. The last time ACE met in New Mexico was in the 1960s in Las Cruces. This is the first NETC conference in New Mexico.

Highlights of the meeting will be the two lunch speakers and a special presentation to Hillerman. On June 19, Hillerman will receive the Reuben Brigham Award, which is presented each year to a communicator who has made a major contribution in the field of agriculture, natural resources, or life and human sciences at the regional, national or international level.

A perennial best-selling author, Hillerman has written 18 mystery novels, four other books of fiction, and 11 nonfiction books. Four of his books have been made into films. His mystery books have Indian protagonists, a rarity in American fiction. His writing is noted for the details he provides about culture of the people he writes about - Navajo, Hopi, European Americans and others. The Navajo Nation honored him with the Special Friend of the Dinč Award for the positive influence his works have had for their nation.

Lunch speakers will include Shebala on June 17 and Catlett on June 18.

Shebala is a senior news reporter for the Navajo Times with 23 years of journalism experience. She was named Arizona Community Journalist of the Year last year by the Arizona Press Club. In 2003, she received a Hewlett Environmental Fellowship to teach environmental journalism at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Shebala currently sits on the University of Colorado-Boulder Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism Board. She also is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists Association, Arizona Press Club, Arizona Newspaper Association, and Committee of Concerned Journalists.

Catlett has had a long career as a top faculty member at NMSU and was named dean in 2006. He is in demand as a speaker by corporate and industry leaders to share his insights on how changes in economics, demographics and technologies converge to shape the way we will work and live in the future. He is a consultant to many Fortune 500 companies as well as the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Interior, Defense and Labor. He has twice received the Donald C. Roush Award for Excellence in Teaching and is a recipient of the Burlington Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding University Teaching. He was a Western Regional recipient of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges' Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Award.

Sponsors of the meeting include Apple, Blue Jay Enterprises, Mainline Information Systems, Wimba, NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).