New Mexico State University is celebrating the National Park Service centennial with a speaker series called “NMSU Celebrates the National Parks.” NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences is hosting classes, public lectures and a blog series to bring the beauty and wonder of America’s national parks to the NMSU campus and Las Cruces community.
The series begins with a lecture titled “Cultural Connections from the Wilderness to the Urban Landscape,” by Rodney Sauter from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1, at O’Donnell Hall in room 111. Sauter supervises the visitor center at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso and will conduct a virtual tour of the Chamizal and the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.
“Although large, natural and scenic parks such as Yosemite, Yellowstone or Grand Canyon likely come to mind for most people when they think of America’s National Parks, roughly two-thirds of our national parks were established primarily to preserve parts of our nation’s history and cultures,” said Sauter. He points to two nearby parks — the Chamizal and the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument — which illustrate the diversity and richness of history and culture entrusted to the National Park Service.
Sauter was the Chief of Interpretation at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument before coming to the Chamizal National Memorial. In addition to the virtual tours of the two parks, his talk will explore what it takes to ensure that all can enjoy these special places today and into the future.
Sauter has worked at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore; Chesapeak and Ohio Canal National Historical Park; and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah in addition to the Gila and the Chamizal. Sauter’s wife is the superintendent at White Sands National Monument. Both live in Las Cruces.
As part of the College of Arts and Sciences program, history professor Jon Hunner has been blogging as he travels across the country visiting various national parks. Each week while on sabbatical this summer and fall, Hunner is writing short histories of the parks he visits. Read more about his travels at drivenbyhistory.blogspot.com. When he returns, Hunner plans to compile his blog posts into a book.