Writer: D'Lyn Ford
Three community leaders were honored for their contributions to the agricultural industry April 28 by New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics. Bud Eppers received the Outstanding Leadership Award, Joe E. Parker received the Fabian Garcia Founders' Award of Excellence and Gretchen Sammis received the Leyendecker Agriculturist of Distinction Award.
Jerry Schickedanz, the college's dean and chief administrative officer, announced the award winners as NMSU's Executive Vice President John Owens presented them.
Eppers, of Roswell, owns a ranch and operates Bud Eppers and Associates, a consulting service that assists landowners with water rights and grazing permit issues.
He serves on the board of directors and chairs the public lands committee of the National Cattlemen's Association. Eppers also is chair of the Bureau of Land Management's Grazing Advisory Board. In addition, Eppers serves on the advisory committee for NMSU's Range Improvement Task Force. He was past president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and of the national and New Mexico public lands councils.
Sammis, of Cimarron, owns the Chase Ranch, which is a 11,000-acre, Hereford cow-calf operation.
She has served on the New Mexico Soil and Water Conservation Commission under three governors. Sammis has served on the Colfax Soil and Water Conservation District since 1972. She also has been a member of the National Association of Conservation District's Board of Directors, the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative National Steering Committee, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association Board of Directors and the Society for Range Management.
Parker, of Las Cruces, is a 1950 dairy science graduate of New Mexico A & M. He worked 25 years as a field representative with Olin Corporation, selling agricultural chemicals in New Mexico and West Texas. During the last 10 years of his professional career, he worked for Mountain Pass Canning in Anthony, which produces the Old El Paso brand.
In 1993, NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station released Nu-Mex Joe E. Parker, a New Mexico 6-4 type of chile with a thicker fruit wall and higher yield. The chile was named for Parker because he helped evaluate the selection. He also has served on the New Mexico Chile Commission.
In 1990, when he retired, growers established a scholarship in his name. Today, the Joe E. Parker Scholarship endowment is up to $40,000.
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