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NMSU Guadalupe County ag agent named interim Eastern District department head

Leigh Ann Marez has done it all during her career as a county Cooperative Extension Service agent with New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.


Woman in black
Leigh Ann Marez, Cooperative Extension Service county agent with New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, was recently named the interim Eastern District department head when that duty was shifted from Bruce Hinrichs, associate director of NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service.

She has been a county program assistant, 4-H agent, nutrition educator, agricultural agent and county program director. So when she got the call asking her to serve as interim Eastern District department head, she felt she could represent and help her fellow agents.

Marez’s new position arose when the college leadership decided to remove the district department head duties from Bruce Hinrichs, CES associate director.

“Bruce has served as associate director for the Cooperative Extension Service and the Eastern District department head since 2009,” said Jon Boren, College of ACES associate dean and director of Extension. “The associate director role is expanding and will require the need to fill the Eastern District position. While we conduct a national search for that position, Leigh Ann Marez has agreed to serve as interim department head.”

Hinrichs said Marez is the logical fit for the position.

“She has had a long career in Extension in several different counties,” Hinrichs said. “She believes in the Extension mission and the value that Extension county programs have in helping the people in the communities.”

Marez’s 26 years in county Extension positions range from 4-H agent in Valencia County to single agent assignments in Guadalupe and De Baca counties, as well as a nutrition educator in Guadalupe County.

“I feel privileged being asked to serve in this capacity,” said Marez, Guadalupe County program director and agricultural agent. “I’m serving my fellow agents because I’ve been in the trenches with them all of these years. I want to represent them the best I can and take care of their needs. That’s why I accepted this assignment.”

Marez has served in a single-agent county Extension office for 11 years. Out of New Mexico’s 33 counties, 11 have only one agent.

When a person is the only agent in the county Extension office, they are a jack-of-all-trades when providing programs to their county.

“In a one-agent county you are kind of everything for everybody,” Marez said. “You have to do it all. You have a percentage of time you should spend in each program area – agriculture, 4-H, and family and consumer science – depending on the clientele needs and the respective agent’s background.”

While family and consumer science programs and economic development may not be a top emphasis area in the single-agent counties Marez has serviced, she is a firm believer that all Extension programs, agriculture and 4-H, benefit from family life programs and economic development.

As one of four female agricultural agents in the state, Marez admits adult agricultural production and 4-H youth development are the area she loves, however she works hard to provide research-based information in any program area that meets the needs of clientele in her county, neighboring counties and region.

Recently, Marez received two awards recognizing her dedication to the job. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and the Outstanding County Agent Award from the College of ACES and state association.