One of the largest colleges at New Mexico State University, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, will open its doors to the public during its first ACES Open House this week.
The free event will be from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at several of the college’s buildings, labs and auxiliary units. Among the programs to be showcased during the event are the college’s animal facilities, the Chile Pepper Institute, Sam Steel Cafe, the Fido Lab, and the Arthropod and Wildlife museums. Students will also participate in a poster competition for a $1,000 first-place prize and a $500 second-place prize in the undergraduate and graduate categories.
“We’re going to showcase to anyone who’s interested the activities and the impacts that our college has for agriculture and families and our communities in New Mexico,” said Natalie Goldberg, interim associate dean and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at the College of ACES. “We hope that people come out and see the great work that we’re doing here in the college.”
A number of child-friendly activities are also planned, including a horse carnival that will provide an opportunity for children to ride and “paint” the horses. Refreshments will be provided in Skeen, Gerald Thomas and Knox halls. And a plant diagnostic clinic, where attendees can provide samples of their ailing plants or ask questions about plant care, will be offered during the event.
Goldberg said she hopes the open house will not only be a fun event for families, but will help the community outside of NMSU learn more about the important work the College of ACES does and how that work impacts our daily lives.
“We’re really hoping that we can show the public what we do. We feel sometimes that we know what we’re doing and the importance of our work, but sometimes when we talk to people outside of NMSU our work is not well known,” Goldberg said. “We want people to see the benefits that our work has to their own lives.”
The College of ACES has several programs in youth development, water conservation, environmental stewardship, food and fiber production, and animal and range sciences, among other subjects. The college is also a resource for several statewide outreach programs through the Cooperative Extension Service, which consists of 34 Extension offices organized in three districts that reach every county of New Mexico, 12 Agricultural Science Centers, and several research-related projects and collections. The Arthropod Museum and the Wildlife Museum are both repositories for research and hold a number of specimens collected by researchers.
“We have over 500,000 specimens in our collection, some dating back to the 1890s,” said Helen Vessels, curator of the NMSU Arthropod Museum. “The museum is very important here on campus because it is a repository for those specimens that were found by different researchers and students all around the southwestern United States as well as other parts of the world.”
Vessels said it’s important to note that arthropods are not just a nuisance. They have a large impact on our world. In fact, many researchers from around the world contact the NMSU Arthropod Museum to examine specimens that are housed there, and sometimes those specimens are loaned to other museums or researchers for further study.
“They are the most common animal on the planet in terms of number of species. They’re always around us, they’re always present with us, and they have major impacts on our agriculture as well as our day-to-day lives,” Vessels said.