Writer: D'Lyn Ford
ALBUQUERQUE--Pete Walden brings a lifetime of ranching experience to Quay County, where he will supervise livestock and crop programs as an agricultural agent with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.
"I'm excited to be in a rural New Mexico county where beef cattle production is one of the main income earners for residents," said Walden, who joined Extension in August. "I've been in this business my entire life. I think I can provide a lot of support to local stock farmers and ranchers, and I really enjoy working with them."
In addition to livestock programs, Walden will provide horticulture assistance for gardeners and work on local economic development programs, such as promoting tourism in Quay County through NMSU's Rural Economic Development Through Tourism (REDTT) program.
Walden, 47, comes from a ranching family. His parents ranched in Moriarty, but in the late 1950s, drought forced them to sell and move to Mineral Wells, near Fort Worth, Texas, where his father was hired to manage a 600-head cattle operation.
"I was in the saddle helping my dad by the time I was 8," Walden said. "At 12, my dad sent me to artificial insemination school, and I worked with him on the ranch until I graduated from college."
Walden was active in 4-H throughout his youth. He earned a bachelor's degree in animal science in 1977 from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and a master's degree in animal science in 1997 from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.
After graduating from Tarleton, he managed a 200-head cattle operation in Weatherford, Texas, for nine years. In 1986, he began his own cattle operation, which he maintained until 2002, at one point managing three separate ranches with over 900 head.
In addition to running his own business, from 1986 to 1988, he managed a cattle embryo facility west of Fort Worth. From 1989 to 1998, he worked with Texas Cooperative Extension as an agricultural and 4-H agent in Limestone, Guadalupe and Culberson counties, supervising field crop, livestock and natural resource management programs. In Culberson County, he started the Big Buck Tournament to increase profits for mule deer hunters.
"We measured, weighed and recorded the age of mule deer to encourage hunters to focus on quality deer," Walden said. "That increased gross income for hunters in the county by over $600,000 per year, because their sales went from about $600 per hunt to about $3,000 per hunt."
He taught high school science and vocational agriculture from 1999 to 2001 in Dell City, Texas, and most recently worked as a juvenile and adult probation officer in Culberson and Hudspeth counties.
This year, he sold all his cattle to return to Extension.
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