CCC hosting agriculture series

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Clovis Community College is reaching into an historically neglected hemisphere, hoping to patch the gap between higher education and agriculture, according to college officials.

CCC will host an agricultural seminar series this spring, segmented into three sessions.

“This is the first time we’ve done a seminar quite like this,” CCC Director of Occupational Technology Jean Morrow said. “I think there is a general feeling that community colleges do not historically offer agricultural programs. Others programs were easier to develop.”

Launching tonight with a seminar on the future of agricultural markets, the series will also cover the threat of agroterrorism and the marketing of organic commodities, Morrow said.

“The college has always felt like agriculture is a major industry here and we haven’t connected with it in a serious way yet,” said Morrow, who acted as a liaison between the agriculture community and the college to organize the series, funded through a state grant.

For local farmers, ranchers, and dairymen, opportunities to stay abreast of the evolving agricultural climate can be sparse, but there is a great need to do so, said Clovis Agricultural Science Center Extension Agronomist Mark Marsalis.

“There are constantly new advances coming down the line and growers need to know about such things. These seminars can help them gain the knowledge they need,” Marsalis said.

In addition to natural threats, farmers and ranchers must also contend with unnatural threats, such as agroterrorism, Morrow said.

“That seminar will talk not only about impact of diseases, like mad cow disease, but also on how to be an early detector and responder (to agroterrorism), and how to work in the community to respond, so we don’t have a mass panic if we had an (agroterrorism) incident in the area or in the state,” Morrow said.

Morrow and company are not alone in their quest to increase agricultural education.

“Bringing education to agriculture is one of the top three goals of our organization,” New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau Director of Communications Erik Ness said.

“We found out,” Ness said, “that there is a gap in knowledge, especially among consumers as to how agriculture actually works and where it fits in with life.”

Fast facts
• For information on the Clovis Community College agricultural seminar series, which is free of charge, call 769-4930 or e-mail Jean Morrow at
jean.morrow@clovis.edu
• The first seminar, “Basics of Future Markets,” will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Clovis Community College in Room 512.