Writer: Darrell J. Pehr, 575-646-3223, firstname.lastname@example.org
LAS CRUCES - Charlie Siepel will oversee Cooperative Extension Service programs in nine counties as Southwest district department head for New Mexico State University.
Siepel, who served as Hidalgo County program director for 21 years, will lead Extension programs in agriculture, nutrition and youth development.
Siepel sees many opportunities in the counties of his district. "We should support the needs of the people," he said. "There are great needs in health, nutrition, youth development, leadership development, water issues in agriculture and bioterrorism issues in livestock and crops."
Siepel, who took over his new duties on Feb. 1, will direct the district from Lordsburg.
His new territory is vast, stretching from the ranches of Catron County to the pistachio and apple orchards of Otero County, and from the tourism-based economy of Lincoln County to Siepel's home turf, Hidalgo County, where he was instrumental in increasing chile production from almost nothing to the No. 3 chile county in New Mexico.
Siepel said being along the U.S.-Mexico border presents special challenges and opportunities. He looks forward to working on cross-border initiatives and said the two countries are collaborating to help the citizens of the area.
Siepel is confident in the abilities of the Extension faculty in his district. "We have a very efficient group of employees to work with."
The Carlsbad native earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural business management and master's degree in agricultural economics from NMSU. He worked for four years in the fertilizer, chemical and farm equipment business, then became an Extension agent and program director in Knox County, Texas.
In 1983, he joined NMSU's Extension Service in Hidalgo County.
In addition to chile production, Siepel initiated the development of marigold and vegetable crop production. In addition to his work in soil analysis, livestock production, supplements for range cattle and economic development, he still made time to serve as the county's Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, starting in 1993.
Siepel particularly enjoys working with 4-H members on their projects. He consulted with businesses on economic development and addressed conservation issues in Hidalgo County.
He said he'll miss "walking the fields and pastures and working one-on-one, helping individuals to better their lives," but looks forward to his new duties.
Downloadable photo of Siepel
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