Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - Making the rounds at 20 county fairs and the state 4-H and FFA conferences was all in a summer's work for Jerry Hawkins, new recruiter with New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics.
To cap it off, Hawkins held youth and adult livestock judging contests Sept. 12 at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, the first such individual competitions in memory. And then he hit the road for more fairs.
Though he's new to NMSU, Hawkins is a veteran recruiter, having worked for Clarendon College in Texas for 35 years as agriculture department chair and livestock judging coach. "When you're with a small junior college in Texas, you have to hustle," he said, though his nonstop schedule continues for NMSU.
He began his career as a vocational agriculture teacher, working at high schools in Clarendon, Groom and Spearman, Texas. "That 10 years of high school agriculture teaching experience has been a strength in recruiting," Hawkins said.
To help prospective students, he is well-versed in both academic programs and tuition rates. "New Mexico State is an excellent place to get a good education, particularly with the tuition increases of up to 29 percent in the surrounding states," he said.
Hawkins also looks forward to assisting NMSU's livestock judging teams with Clay Elliott, the college's new judging team coordinator. Hawkins' teams-which included talented New Mexicans-have won in Shreveport, Phoenix, Denver and Fort Worth. "New Mexico students have a good background in livestock knowledge and we have excellent ag teachers and county Extension agents who work with the kids," he said.
At Clarendon, he hosted an invitational judging for 2,000 competitors from five states.
"Judging teaches critical thinking under pressure and communication skills," he said. "That's important, no matter who you are or what business you're in."
In 2002, Hawkins was selected as a judge for performance Simmental and Angus shows. He has been a judge for open cattle classes of Red Angus and Charolais at the prestigious Fort Worth Stock Show.
Last year, Texas FFA presented Hawkins with its Blue and Gold award, given to a single honoree who has made the greatest contribution to FFA during the year. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas Tech in animal science and agricultural education, respectively, and was named a distinguished animal science alumnus in 2001.
In his travels thus far, Hawkins has seen many familiar faces. "A lot of New Mexico kids and county agents are people I've taught or tried to recruit," he says.
He has ties to an NMSU faculty member as well: son Dean Hawkins, an animal and range sciences professor. "Living in Ruidoso allows me to spend time with my twin granddaughters," he said. Hawkins and his wife, Glenda, have another son, Doug, also a Ph.D., who works for Purina Mills in Texas.
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