2017-06-07, Rolston St. Hilaire, Mesa Glow Maple

President Christopher called the meeting to order at 12:12 pm. Blaine Goss led the invocation. President Christopher led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, then invited Sue Groth to lead the group in “Stodola Pumpa,” a Czech Folk Song which translates to barn pump. Although a gallant effort was put forth, the rendition lacked authenticity since many members were still trying to figure out how to say the title by the time the song was over. President Christopher quickly brought us back to familiar territory by singing Happy Birthday to those Rotarians with a June birthday. He also recognized wedding anniversaries as well as club anniversaries. Although today’s attendance was lower than usual, quality was very strong. The mystery greeter was Jay “hiding in the back” Jordan. President Christopher also recognized the fashion coordination exhibited by Patti and Lya.

Announcements & Happy Dollars

Barry Fisher announced that there is a need for Friendship Exchange host families September 18-22. Fellow Rotarians will be visiting Las Cruces from New Zealand. If you are able to serve as a host contact Barry or Laura Smart. Sue Groth announced that although he had to leave early, John Hernandez was still happy to be here for a little while. He was also very happy with his Bridge Grand Slam on Tuesday! John Pickett had three happy dollars; 1) the great SunNews spread about the cemetery clean-up, it was a great day  2) 130 people worked on 21 projects during last week’s “May I Serve” event  3) Jose is now working as an intern with John. He also announced that there would be a servant day in September and asked members to submit names of people who would benefit from having the exterior of their house painted. The club learned that Howard Ness had emergency surgery, so a card was passed around for signature. Richelle reminded everyone that Thursday June 8th is “Taste of Las Cruces” with great silent auction items such as wine, art, & a man can! Twenty restaurants are participating with proceeds going to Casa de Peregrinos. They have been great partners selling tables and over 150 tickets. Bill Harty was happy to have a new iphone to replace his Blackberry, it takes special people to have an antique mobile phone. Gary Aschbacher was happy for his wife to turn 60 and look forward to a wonderful new decade! Cornell Menking noted that his 18 years of marriage did not seem like the 32 years reported last week. 

The Program

Glenn Duff had arranged the program, however due to a remote work assignment could not be here to introduce the speaker. Bill Harty introduced Rolston St. Hilaire, Department Head of Plant and Environmental Sciences in NMSU’s College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. Dr. St. Hilaire talked about the development of JFS-NuMex3 (Acer grandidentatum), a beautiful variety of the Bigtooth Maple tree that he has worked on for 16 years.

The Bigtooth Maple is a small tree with brilliant fall colors that is native to North America. The seeds are a type of wing fruit also known as sanaras. When he first arrived at NMSU, his goal was to develop a tree that could add great color with ornamental appeal. He collected samples from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. His research team studied approximately 10,000 trees. Working with a large team that employed many undergraduate students, the research focused on developing a variety that was drought resistance with great color, disease resistant, did well in high light, and was able to handle salinity. The idea was to develop a maple that could do as well in the lower elevations of the west as the Bigtooth Maple did in the higher elevations. In 2004, he began a partnership with J. Frank Schmidt (JFS), a commercial nursery in Oregon. Dr. St. Hilaire had made a tremendous breakthrough propagating a drought resistant variety using a tissue culture. However, the JFS nursery wanted to work with him to develop grafting techniques that would make the tree commercially valid. After working to develop the grafting, JFS-NuMex3 was trademarked as Mesa Glow. More recently, Dr. St. Hilaire has worked with the Arrowhead Center to patent this tree. The first commercial batch has sold out and is expected to be available to the retail market next spring. A video about his work can be found at https://youtu.be/QHyDn1WG81s

After the Program

Jay Jordan kept the bad joke race going with “Forrest passing the heaven entrance exam” (see Jay for details). However, not to be outdone, President Christopher appropriately found the tree joke website. Minimum effort should be used to locate this site. Patty encouraged members to attend regularly since attendance was down a bit this summer. Barry noted that the Mesilla Valley Club was experiencing a similar decline. Patti also reported that $401 was raised last month for Interact. Today $87 was raised for the June focus area. The current jackpot is at $500 (so is the next one and the one after that is $62). Bill Harty had the lucky ticket to get a chance to draw the joker, unfortunately it was not lucky enough. President Christopher closed the meeting with the four-way test.

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Guests of Rotarians



June Briggs

Dinus Briggs

Jose Martinez

John Pickett

Amy Pickett

Bobby Rankin

Visiting Rotarians


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Submitted by Greg FantGreg Fant