Jerry Schickedanz, dean of New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics, received a national award for public service from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, in Washington, D.C.
Schickedanz received a Secretary's Honor Award for enhancing service to rural, Hispanic and Native American populations. He was nominated for leading the college's outreach through the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs project, welfare-to-work efforts, youth at-risk programs and Native American partnerships.
"He will become one of three or four New Mexicans in history to receive this award," said college development officer Ron Gurley, who retired from USDA.
Schickedanz, who has served as dean since 1997, previously headed NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, which has offices and faculty in every New Mexico county.
"We call him the Flying Dean because he flies his own plane and covers the state to meet with any group, at any time, to offer his personal service to the rural people of New Mexico," Gurley said.
Schickedanz leads a host of outreach programs cited in the nomination. In the past three years, more than 3,000 families have learned strategies for economic survival through the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs project, in north central New Mexico. Staff conduct educational programs, on topics such as soil analysis, integrated pest management, beef cattle nutrition and herd management. More than 1,200 families have learned food processing, marketing and packaging skills through the project.
Schickedanz's nomination cites the college's leadership in administering New Mexico Works, the state's welfare-to-work program, in southwestern New Mexico. Since the program's inception in 1998, 8,265 people have taken part in education, training and placement programs and 4,552 have found paying jobs through New Mexico Works.
Schickedanz works with tribal leaders as a partner in economic development projects. He leads programs that serve New Mexico's 22 Indian tribes by providing assistance with livestock production, range management and small-scale farming.
Schickedanz came to NMSU in 1976 as a range management specialist and served as coordinator of the Range Improvement Task Force for 10 years. He served as Extension program leader for agriculture and resource development, from 1984 to 1986, Extension program director, from 1986 to 1988, associate Extension director, from 1988 to 1992, and Extension director, from 1992 to 1997.
Schickedanz, who grew up on a farm and ranch in Fargo, OK, has been honored for his service by the college, New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association, and the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.
He began his Extension career as a county agent, in Duncan, AZ. He earned a doctorate in range science, from the University of Arizona, a master's in range science, from NMSU; and a bachelor's in zoology, from Oklahoma State University.