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New Mexico State University

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NMSU civil engineering professor, administrator retires after 37 years

LAS CRUCES - Earning a letter in high school is an accomplishment cherished by many. But not all youth are athletes, musicians or honor students so they frequently miss out of the thrill of being a letterman and displaying their accomplishment on a letter jacket.


Now New Mexico 4-H members can earn a letter in home economics and creative arts to demonstrate that they, too, have demonstrated a level of expertise in a field of endeavor.

New Mexico is the first state to offer this level of recognition in home economics.

"We want to recognize those that are involved in our home economics related areas and encourage them to develop their life skills through the many projects available in that area of work," said Mindy Turner, New Mexico State University's 4-H youth development specialist. The program has awarded chenille cloverleaf letters for the past two years.

The ultimate honor is the platinum letter, which is awarded to two participants each year, to demonstrate that their work was the best among those who lettered.

Receiving the platinum letter in 2006, thus being the first-ever recipients of the honor, were Kelcie Orphey of Hidalgo County and Anastasia Coriz of Rio Arriba County. They both lettered at the gold level. Also lettering were Rachel Cox of Roosevelt County and Rachel Martin of Valencia County, who both earned bronze letters.

In November 2007 this year's recipients were announced during their county annual awards banquets. Platinum letter recipients were Leandra Jones of San Juan County and Jalayna Roberts of Roosevelt County. Jones earned a gold letter, while Roberts earned a silver letter.

This year's bronze letter recipients were Jasi Roberts of Roosevelt County, Jeremy Zeilik, Ciprianna Roybal and Tana Romero, all of Santa Fe County, and Larisa Estrada of Catron County.

The letter criteria is divided into the three age groups of 4-H: bronze for novice members ages 9 to 11, silver for junior members ages 12 to 13, and gold for senior members ages 14 to 19.

"A member may letter one time at each age level," Turner said. "The first time they letter they receive a chenille clover leaf and the appropriate color H pin for their division. Each time they qualify after that they receive the H pin for that division."

It takes approximately two years to accumulate the required activities, including projects, demonstrations, public speaking, leadership and community services, to qualify for a letter.

"As they get older the quantity of activities to qualify for the letter increases and they are required to do a variety of activities and projects. We want to know they are not just focusing on a specific project," Turner said.

"We find that a large percentage of the youth, who are involved in these types of projects, such as culinary, tailoring and different types of art fields, pursue a career in these areas. They've developed an interest in it and have honed their skills, not just in the project areas, but also through leadership roles in their clubs and community service projects."