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Best of NAMA 2022

Source: New Mexico Agriculture in the Classroom news release

Las Cruces, NM - New Mexico Agriculture in the Classroom is pleased to announce that the organization is the recipient of a $100,000 two-year competitive grant through USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The purpose of the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops, as defined by USDA, include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.

This funding will assist in the development of hands-on, free educational resources for use by teachers and developing in-person and virtual scientific-based teacher workshops focused on specialty crops produced in New Mexico. In-person workshops will include trips to farms, processing facilities, research facilities and other facilities. The goal is to do the ground-work to build a successful template for future specialty crop workshops.

One of the specialty crops that will be explored through this grant is chile. Chile is one of the state's vegetables and is even considered so important as to elicit an official state question: Red or green? New Mexico currently ranks among the top states in the nation for chile production. New Mexico State University is also home to the world renown Chile Pepper Institute and the Fabian Garcia Science & Research Center that illustrates the rich historical and cultural ties to chile and how it has become an integral part of culinary traditions today.

Whether it is red or green or a new variety or heirloom passed down for generations, chile offers a wonderful place for classrooms to investigate a diverse specialty crop that is deeply rooted in New Mexico.

"We are pleased that New Mexico Agriculture in the Classroom was selected to receive this $100,000 grant," said Traci Curry, director of New Mexico Agriculture in the Classroom. "We look forward to providing opportunities for K-12 students and educators throughout the state to connect with the science found in the production of many of our specialty crops as well as explore the rich cultural and historical connections. We anticipate having more informed consumers about New Mexico specialty crops and incentivizing New Mexico youth to consider careers in agriculture."

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