First Person

Joshua Sherman, new Valencia County ag agent.

Hello! I’m Josh Sherman, the new New Mexico State University, Valencia County Cooperative Extension agriculture agent. I will also be the supervisor and facilitator of the Valencia County Master Gardener Program.

I have a passion for the outdoors. If you were to run into me on the weekend, you would likely see me exploring. I enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking and gardening — all of which have fueled my interests in extension.

If you were to pop by the office (and I highly encourage you to) and asked me, “So, what is an extension agriculture agent?” Simply, I am a resource to the public as an extension from the Land Grant University for the state of New Mexico, which is New Mexico State University (NMSU).

If you needed greater detail, extension agriculture agents for the Cooperative Extension are educators, needs assessors, a resource for information and problem-solving for local stakeholders and constituents, and a creator of networks between the agricultural industry, specialists, agency representatives, both governmental and non-governmental, and other extension agents.

That’s right! There are other extension agents in a variety of disciplines, including 4-H, Family Health Sciences, livestock and horticulture to name a few. The extension agents make every effort to answer an inquiry directly from their knowledge base, or they’ll research extensively and locate the most up-to-date and credible resources.

I have been in extension for 11 years. I’m actually returning to NMSU (my alma mater) after eight years of experience with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. As a horticulturist, arborist and national and international author of works in several scientific and trade journals, my focus in southern Arizona has been on expanding acreage of intensively cultivated crops (e.g., pecan and grape), as well as helping small acreage direct market producers (e.g., CSAs).

I bring valuable experience as I supervised the Extension Master Gardener program and organized and developed conferences, workshops and hands-on demonstrations to bring the most current knowledge and research to commercial and residential stakeholders. I also served as the state coordinator of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) State Implementation Program for Arizona.

In my role here in Valencia County, I’ll plan, design and implement programs and project activities using research-based findings in sustainable agriculture, natural resources and the environment to solve real-world problems. I’m the agent who advises, instructs and assists individuals involved in agriculture production, post-harvesting, agriculture technologies, enterprise marketing, natural resources, environmental activities and provide leadership and guidance for adults and youth in 4-H and youth development.

I’m also here to design and implement programming for specialty crop and under-served farmers and meet their needs in compliance with NMSU Equity, Inclusion and Diversity goals promoting program expansion to non-traditional demographic residents in Valencia County and the state of New Mexico.

I will work closely with producers, agribusiness, community leaders, Extension Leadership Councils and advisory boards, as well as Valencia County Commissioners, other agents, New Mexico SARE, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and conduct farm and business visits to identify and prioritize issues, problems and opportunities, and remain knowledgeable of the specific local needs and problems.

In my first year in this new role, my focus will be to identify potential industry leaders and help develop their capacity to accomplish the community and industry goals.

One of the biggest roles of the Valencia County agriculture extension agent, and pretty much all extension agents, is to provide current research-based information to the local producers by employing various delivery methods targeted to diverse audiences, and this may include meetings or workshops, short courses, field days, tours, on-farm research, demonstrations and other appropriate teaching methods.

I am eager to work alongside our public and private organizations and individuals that share extension’s mission and objectives. I am also energetic to conduct citizen science projects or activities for our community.

Having acquired external funding to support multiple programs, I am capable of writing successful collaborative proposals and gaining external grant funding. In this new position, I plan to continue researching fruit phenology and physiology, specifically plant and soil relationships, light reactions, and carbohydrate production to sustain high-quality fruit and forage yields. Other interests of mine include plant disease mitigation, entomology (insects), mineral nutrition, plant hormone responses to stimuli and rootstock studies focused on drought tolerance, saline conditions, pest responses and most of all sustainable agriculture methods.

I enjoy being a resource for growers of food production systems and backyard gardeners alike. Above all, I love extension and am excited about moving back to New Mexico (Valencia County in particular) to get my boots on the ground and meet my new clientele.

Program announcements:

To register for an upcoming program, call the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service at 505-565-3002. For more information, visit

  • Ready, Set, GROW! Free gardening classes are being offered virtually. “Approaches to Addressing Troublesome Wildlife in Your Garden: Deer and Pocket gophers,” at 3 p.m., Wednesday, April 19. Registration required.
  • Hoop House Construction Workshop: May 4, 2023, located at Wagner Farm in Corrales. This is a hands-on workshop for hoop house construction and use. Registration required, please reach out to the Extension Office for more information.
  • Soil Health Workshop for Small-Acreage Producers: May 22, 2023, located in Los Ranchos Agri-Nature Center. Learn soil health principles and different soil management techniques. Registration required, please reach out to the Extension Office for more information.

If you are an individual with a disability who requires auxiliary aid or service to participate in a program, please contact the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service Office at 505-565-3002 two weeks in advance of the event.

(Joshua Sherman is the New Mexico State University, Valencia County Cooperative Extension agriculture agent.)

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Joshua Sherman, guest columnist