Cameron L. Saffell is a native of Lubbock, the grandson of two West Texas cotton farming families. He connected with this heritage while pursuing a degree in museum science at Texas Tech in the 1990s. Not only did he produce a material culture study of cotton farming implements for his master's thesis, he went on to expand the topic into a dissertation on the introduction and spread of cotton farming in the American West. He completed that work for a degree in agricultural history and rural studies from Iowa State University.
In 1999 Saffell joined the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum as their curator of history. Over the years he was involved in the research and development of a large number of exhibits and public programs, including the use of German and Italian prisoners of war in New Mexico agriculture during World War II, the communal-religious society of Shalam in southern New Mexico, a host of farm and ranch topics, and most recently the centennial of New Mexico statehood. The highlight was overseeing the relocation of New Mexico's second-oldest highway bridge (1902) to the museum and successfully nominating it for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to his museum research, Saffell was the oral history program director and served as a consultant for several organizations in the region.
Saffell's life has come full circle. With nearly twenty years of experience in the museum field, Saffell has been hired as the newest faculty member of the Museum Science Program—the same program he started in. He believes the combination of real-world experience, and his academic background and theoretical knowledge of museums and history will serve him and his students well as he begins a new phase in his career as a teacher.