Area programs team up to help Ag students

Tony Parra

Eastern New Mexico University and Ag New Mexico of Clovis are working in conjunction to give ENMU agriculture students opportunities in the area.
Ag New Mexico has an internship program set up with ENMU. Ag New Mexico will be looking for qualified individuals or trainees to become professional lending officers for farmers and ranchers.
“They were excited about working with us,” said Michael O’Connor, an ENMU agriculture instructor. “It’s good for the agriculture department because we can find out if we need to add anything to our courses from agriculture businesses. We can work together and they can help us with suggestions. It’s a win-win situation.”
The internship allows students to gain experience in preparation for a career in agriculture finance, according to ENMU and Ag New Mexico officials.
“I was involved with an association and worked with Texas Tech interns,” Ag New Mexico President Bill Yoakum said about the idea of working with ENMU. “We wanted to find out, who if anyone, had an internship program. As luck would have it, ENMU did. The timing was perfect.”
Brad Hodges is the first student to enter the internship program. Hodges is working as an intern for Ag New Mexico, which has been in operation since 1934.
“When I was growing up my family would get loans for their ranch,” Hodges said. “I would see them (loan officers) help with ranches. I liked that line of work and was real interested in pursuing a career in the field.”
Hodges’ family owns a cow/calf ranch in Tucumcari with about 65 to 70 head of cattle.
ENMU associate professor of agriculture Dr. Terry Ervin said the Agriculture Department requires internships for general agriculture majors, but Hodges’ major doesn’t require an internship. Hodges, who is an agriculture economics major, approached professors with the idea of working for Ag New Mexico.
“Brad fits the mold of a bright, highly-qualified individual,” O’Connor said. “He is responsible and he is good with people.”
O’Connor said this is the first time in at least 12 years that ENMU has worked with Ag New Mexico on an internship. One of the concerns between city officials during one of the economic development forums was the ability to keep ENMU graduates in the area.
“It (internship program) helps them stay in the area,” Ervin said. “Most graduates want to have a career which makes good money and is near home. That’s the challenge.”
O’Connor said ENMU has worked with other companies such as Dairy Concepts, John Deere in Clovis, veterinarian clinics, the United States Agriculture Department and the New Mexico Agriculture Department on supplying them with interns.
“They (Ag New Mexico) showed me all they can,” Hodges said. “I sit in and listen to loan officers. They provide people with details on the risks and determine what is the best option. I’d like to stay here. It’s a possibility, but it’s still up in the air.”
Hodges has been working as an intern since mid-January and he graduates in May.
“This is an excellent opportunity for us,” Yoakum said. “He has worked well and if we need a trainee that would fit our association, we could employ him when he graduates.”