Rural Partners Network hosts Federal partners on a tour of flood infrastructure, accredited culinary certification projects in Southern New Mexico

Group of people at a tour stop in La Union New Mexico

In New Mexico, the Doña Ana County Community Network hosted a tour for Federal partners who attended the Voices of the Community New Mexico Partner Forum on March 12, 2024. The focus was on flooding infrastructure and a university-backed certification for meat-processing professionals in Southern New Mexico.

Attendees from USDA Rural Development, the White House, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began their tour in La Union, New Mexico a small colonia community who is on the path to recovery after multiple years of monsoon-related flooding. The most recent flooding event occurred in August of 2021 where a dam breach caused severe damage and flooding to a large portion of this underserved, low-income colonia community. 

RPN’s Community Network Liaison, Patricia Villalobos, in collaboration with Doña Ana County Flood Commission, and FEMA have worked to assist the community with ponding and storm drain projects. Mr. John Gwynne, Director of Doña Ana County Flood Commission and Mr. Michael Ku, Mitigation Advisor of FEMA were present to provide the group with history, challenges, and current projects that are being designed and developed for flood control.   

The second stop on the Southern New Mexico tour took officials 15-minutes south to Stampede Culinary Partners in Sunland Park, New Mexico for a tour of the meat processing facility. Chicago-based Stampede Culinary Partners is the only meat-processing facility in the region and a vital contributor to this underserved area’s economic development. 

Group of people in front of tour stop at Stampede Culinary Partners

RPN’s, Community Network Liaison, Patricia Villalobos, in collaboration with New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and Stampede Culinary Partners worked to expand its proprietary Butcher Certification Program in Sunland Park through the university. The program celebrated its first graduates of the expanded certification in July of 2023. According to Stampede, “the investment on the expansion signals a commitment to the career development of its employees, customers, and consumers by providing the highest-caliber product and experience in the culinary solutions market”. 

Tour attendees at Stampeded Culinary Partners in New Mexico

Mr. John Villa, Director of Operations, Ms. Paola Rojas Miranda, Director of Human Resources and Dr. Jay M. Lillywhite, Assistant Dean, Economic & Rural Development for NMSU ACES were present to talk about the certified butcher training program and the positive impact it has made to the organization.

RPN’s collaborative partnerships are the key to success. In the Doña Ana County Community Network, the flood infrastructure project in the communities of La Union and the Butcher Certification Program in Sunland Park although two very different projects, demonstrate similar engagements and sharing of best practices amongst partners that can make a difference. 


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