Brandon Larrañaga, a New Mexico State University senior pursuing a double major in agriculture communications and journalism and media studies, is one of only two students selected to represent the State of New Mexico at the Western Governors' Leadership Institute this summer.
Shannon Norris-Parish, assistant professor of agricultural and extension education, nominated Larrañaga for the program. "Brandon is an incredible student who is passionate about serving and improving our local communities," Norris-Parish said. "As an agricultural communications major, he understands the role clear and concise messaging plays in community development. I am confident he will bring these leadership skills back to New Mexico State University upon serving as a New Mexico delegate to the Western Governors’ Leadership Institute."
The leadership institute runs from July 24 through July 28. It begins with a forum of speakers including governors, business leaders and presidents of various organizations. The delegates will also attend the Western Governors' Association annual meeting, where the cohort can observe the discourse between governors of different states and different parties engaging on significant issues.
"The biggest thing that I seek to gain from this experience is insight into bipartisan discussion and to learn firsthand how such interaction can take shape on such a large scale," Larrañaga said. "I also am looking forward to networking with not only prominent leaders across the region, but also other driven, passionate young leaders from across the nation that together will offer an array of ideals and mindsets that may be similar or different from my own."
Larrañaga is in the first cohort of 21 students to launch the program designed to recognize and reward the effective exercise of leadership by young adults across the West, and to promote and encourage its future development. Selected as an alternate for the program, Larrañaga was notified that available funding would allow both delegates to attend this year.
"Brandon's leadership goes beyond tasking or getting the results," said Gain Park, journalism and media studies associate professor. "He genuinely cares about others and knows how to create an atmosphere that encourages creativity and communication. He doesn't only play an expected role in a team but he always inspires others with innovative approaches and creative solutions."
Larrañaga grew up in Las Vegas, New Mexico, with two brothers and his parents, who are native New Mexicans. His father worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"I chose to attend NMSU for a few different reasons," Larrañaga said. "The biggest of these was that I was heavily attracted to the College of ACES (Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences), and the faculty and students that were part of that community. I also was impressed by the journalism program in the College of Arts and Sciences, and together the two programs were the biggest reason I chose to become an Aggie."
Norris-Parish described Larrañaga as thriving when collaborating and leading people. "One of his biggest strengths is integrating multiple people and projects under a common goal. He leads with a heart of service, which he modeled as the 2020–2021 New Mexico FFA State President."
"At the Western Governors' Leadership Institute, I want to represent not only my state and New Mexico State University, but also to serve as a youth advocate for New Mexico agriculture, wildlife and natural resources," Larrañaga said. "Growing up hunting, fishing, and practicing natural resource conservation with my family fueled my desire to serve those industries. I mean to use my skills as a communicator and storyteller to advocate for these industries that are so critical to our economy."