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NMSU honors Los Lunas employee with ‘A’ Mountain staff award

LOS LUNAS, N.M. – Kathy Valadez, fiscal assistant at New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas, was recognized by the NMSU Employee Council with the “A” Mountain staff award at the annual Employee Appreciation Picnic Oct. 17. Valadez was presented with a commemorative plaque by NMSU President Garrey Carruthers.

A man and a woman with a commemorative plaque.
NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, far right, Bill Harty, far left, and Greg Block present Kathy Valadez with an "A" Mountain Staff Award during the annual NMSU employee picnic on the horseshoe lawn. (NMSU Photo)

“During Kathy’s 33 years at the Los Lunas science center, she has exhibited the highest level of professionalism and productivity,” said Mark Marsalis, superintendent at the center, who nominated Valadez for the award. “She is a shining example of the integrity, endurance and passion that the ‘A’ Mountain Award stands for.”

Valadez handles bookkeeping and financial support for both the NMSU center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Materials Center, which is housed in the same facility in Los Lunas. She helps manage financial matters, contract agreements and product ordering for the Plant Materials Center.

“This interagency collaboration between state and federal systems in New Mexico is unique and is one that requires a high level of skill and knowledge in order to coordinate and manage the vastly different budgets and daily operations for both institutions,” Marsalis said. “Kathy is able to do this efficiently and effectively. She works seamlessly with both NMSU and PMC staff to accomplish the goals of both entities. In addition, Kathy provides administrative support for both NMSU Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service faculty at the station, making her skill set both inter-institutional and inter-departmental.”

Valadez earned a bookkeeping certificate at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque (then the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute) and began working in Albuquerque. When she learned of the opening at Los Lunas, she was eager to get the job because she lived in Belen and was commuting to Albuquerque.

“Once I got here, I found a niche,” she said. “I really enjoyed it.”

Valadez finds the need for attention to detail and problem-solving the most interesting parts of her job. The rural setting of the station and her co-workers help make the job enjoyable.

“I work with a bunch of wonderful people. It’s always been like a family,” she said. “It’s a beautiful facility.”

Valadez was praised for a can-do attitude, welcoming approach and positive attitude, working both with station personnel as well as with homeowners, farmers and others who come to the station seeking information, business representatives, city and county officials and other NMSU faculty and staff visiting the station.

Her willingness to go the extra mile, put in extra time and take pride in her job was acknowledged, as well as her efficiency.

“One of her best attributes is her ability to foresee potential pitfalls and avoid costly errors,” Marsalis said. “She is willing to provide constructive input on major financial decisions and is not afraid to propose alternative routes to improve efficiency and reduce expenditures.”

As a result of her work to oversee operation of the USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Operations and Management System and her ability and expertise in the operation of the database reporting system, the Los Lunas center was recognized nationally as a location for other PMCs to contact to solve questions on the system.

“Kathy has seen many changes and personnel come and go over the years. Yet, she has remained a steadfast and dedicated employee through it all,” Marsalis said. “Kathy strives to advance the station’s mission of research and Extension programming and understands the importance of the work that both NMSU and USDA conduct. The efforts of NMSU and USDA at Los Lunas would not be possible without the contributions of Kathy and her hard work and years of dedication.”