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NMSU President Martin signs Tribal Extension agreement with Native American colleges

SANTA FE University presidents from New Mexico State University, Diné College and Navajo Technical College signed a memorandum of agreements in support of Tribal Extension program before members of the Navajo Nation Council during a Santa Fe luncheon hosted by Sen. Lynda Lovejoy, D-McKinley County, on Feb. 13.

NMSU's Extension nutrition educator Natalie Castillo, left, watches as New Mexico Works clients Aarica Tyler, center, and Joseph Baca put the finishing touches on the creamy green chile soup. The Ideas for Cooking Nutritional class was part of a vocational training given in Albuquerque by New Mexico State University's New Mexico Works Central Region program. (NMSU Photo by Jane Moorman)

The memorandum of agreement (MOA), signed by NMSU President Michael Martin, Diné College President Felin Clark and Navajo Technical College President Elmer Guy, formalized the partnership between the three Land-Grant institutions to provide Cooperative Extension programs in agriculture, 4-H and youth development, and family and consumer science.

In 2007, New Mexico legislators Rep. Ray Begaye, D-San Juan County, and Sen. Lovejoy secured state appropriations for NMSU Cooperative Extension to support Tribal Extension programs in New Mexico. NMSU Cooperative Extension will partner with Navajo Technical College and Diné College existing Extension programs to increase the capacity of all three institutions to provide educational programs to the individuals and families on the Navajo Nation.

The three higher education leaders agree that the MOU supports the overall education mission of all of their institutions.

"This is a great start. It is part of a long-term growth of joint programs," said Martin. "As a land-grand university, we are very proud to formalize our relationship with the two land-grant colleges in our state. We see nothing but good things coming from this partnership," he said.

Guy said Navajo Technical College is "no stranger to NMSU. We've been working with them with agriculture programs such as our veterinarian technician program and developing an animal science program. The Tribal Extension program is right in light with our goals at Navajo Technical College. It will strengthen what we are doing," he said

Clark added that the Tribal Extension program will open the door to teaching tribal traditions and indigenous knowledge.

"Through our colleges and our leadership, we can go back to teachings about our Mother Earth and the lessons from the air, the universe, the water and the natural fire," Clark said.