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New NMSU Cooperative Extension Service agent returns home to serve Carlsbad

New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service office in Eddy County has a new home economist, who, as a native of Carlsbad, is eager to get people of all ages excited about various programs Extension has to offer.

Portrait of a woman
Carlsbad native Jennah McKinley has joined the staff of the Eddy Cooperative Extension Service as a home economist. (Courtesy photo)

Jennah McKinley joins a staff of three who provide Extension services to the county through 4-H youth programs, nutrition education programs and agriculture expertise. Her main focus for adults in the county will include diabetes awareness, nutrition and life skills.

With a population in the county of about 54,000, some 12.8 percent are below the poverty level. Low income levels often indicate low educational achievements. In Eddy County, 32 percent of all those 25 years of age and older have obtained less than a high school level of education, and over 7 percent have less than a ninth grade level of education. McKinley said these low income and low educational groups can improve their health through basic nutrition, food safety, food preparation and food resource management education.

Eddy County youth have the potential to be influenced by negative indicators such as crime, poverty, teen birth rate and single parent families. Basic life skills are imperative in the development of knowledgeable and productive citizens for the future of Eddy County, McKinley said.

Home economics subject matter projects such as consumerism, nutrition, personal development and creative arts provide stepping stones in the development process. McKinley is excited to get started on developing various workshops to educate the community on various topics that the community has needed for a long time. Workshops will be advertised in the local newspaper; however, the Eddy County Extension also has a new Facebook page that will display upcoming events and workshops.

Besides coordinating nutrition and family consumer science programs in the county, she will work with 4-H agent Allison Leimer to develop youth programs.

“I really enjoy working with kids,” McKinley said. “It’s an honor to watch them develop life skills as they grow into young adults.”

McKinley has three years of experience working as a teacher in the Carlsbad Municipal School District. She said the home economist position will enable her to extend her expertise to people of all ages in the community.

McKinley’s goals for Eddy County programs include developing the 4-H home economics program by teaching nutrition, cooking and other life skills workshops and having youth participate in various home economics contests. She would like to have the 4-H youth work with adults in the Carlsbad and Artesia homemakers clubs in hopes of increasing membership in those groups.

McKinley earned a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences education and a master’s in education from NMSU in 2011 and 2015. While in college, she served as president of NMSU’s Association of Family and Consumer Sciences for three terms, as well as vice president for the New Mexico Association of Family and Consumer Sciences for one term.

She has acquired several distinguishing awards including the New Mexico Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Student of the Year and New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Outstanding Student Award for the Class of 2011.

She encourages the community to come visit with her at 1304 W. Stevens in Carlsbad.