Organic grower Don Bustos of Española and Mesilla Valley farmer James D. "Denny" Calhoun, co-chair of Cowboys for Cancer Research, were honored April 21 for their leadership and contributions to agriculture by New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics.
Bustos, who operates one of northern New Mexico's most successful small-scale farms, supports his family and seven full- and part-time employees with his 4.5-acre farm. He has been a leader in developing sustainable agricultural practices and alternative growing and marketing techniques. A frequent collaborator with NMSU researchers and specialists, he opens his farm as a demonstration plot to help visitors learn about organic production, efficient irrigation and cold frames that extend the growing season.
Bustos returned to the family farm in Española in 1987 after graduating from New Mexico Military Institute and working as a carpenter in Santa Fe. "It's a lifestyle choice that's not about money," Bustos said. "It's about getting up early and watching the sun rise over the Jemez Mountains, and then working in the fields throughout the day until you watch the sun go down again."
Calhoun has shown a lifelong commitment to agriculture and public service. He worked his way from managing farms to running a 900-acre operation producing cotton, alfalfa, cayenne peppers, onions and silage corn.
For the last five years, he has co-chaired the Cowboys for Cancer Research Committee, which organizes a team-roping event expected to raise $100,000 this year. The last event drew more than 1,500 roping teams and an audience of 750 for a fund-raising dinner and dance.
He has served on the Cotton Advisory Committee and Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum board.
Calhoun and his wife, Geraldine, supported their children's involvement in 4-H and FFA. All four children followed their parents to New Mexico State, where they earned degrees through the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. Calhoun competed on the NMSU rodeo team and served as state FFA president in college. He later served on the university's alumni executive council.
Jerry Schickedanz, the college's dean and chief administrative officer, presented awards to supporters, faculty and staff.
The team award went to almost 40 members of the Rio Grande Basin Initiative, a joint water research and education project involving New Mexico State and Texas A&M universities. Cooperators include Elephant Butte Irrigation District and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.
College faculty and staff honored during the awards program were Bernd Leinauer, a turfgrass specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, Distinguished Service Award; Gary Roemer, faculty member in fishery and wildlife sciences, Distinguished Research Award; Martha Archuleta, Extension foods and nutrition specialist, Distinguished Extension Award; and Tim Ross, animal science professor, Distinguished Teaching Award.
Jerry Hawkes, assistant professor in agricultural economics and agricultural business, received a teaching award of merit from the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. Staff members honored were Dena Brown, a 40-year NMSU employee and administrative secretary in the Chaves County Extension office; and Martha Carrasco, administrative secretary III in the family and consumer sciences department on campus.