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Bishop retires from Quay County Extension Office after 32 years

Brenda Bishop, a longtime Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent in Quay County, retired July 31, ending a career spanning more than 30 years with New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.


Headshot of a woman.
Brenda Bishop, an Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent in Quay County, has retired from the Quay County Extension Office after 32 years of service. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Bishop’s 32-year career at the Quay County Extension Office began in 1987 after she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in home economics from NMSU. For all of her career, Bishop worked to further the mission of improving the lives of New Mexico residents through research-based education and outreach, specializing in the areas of home and family.

In 2000, Bishop took on the role of county program director for the Quay County Extension Office, based in Tucumcari. She held the leadership position in addition to her duties as one of the only Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agents in northeastern New Mexico.

Under Bishop’s leadership, the Quay County Extension Office has delivered research-based programs to benefit children and adults in areas that include: agriculture and horticulture; home economics; 4-H youth and development; and community and economic development.

For her part, Bishop implemented home and family programs and helped coordinate Quay County’s 4-H program, positively impacting hundreds of adults and children throughout her career. As county program director, she managed up to eight full-time staff members, oversaw the office’s budget and spending, and wrote grants to fund programs and projects.

“Because of our low population numbers, services have been reduced as state agency budget funds are transferred to larger counties, leaving many gaps in all types of services,” she said. “Throughout my career, my community programming focus has evolved to help fill identified gaps in the community.”

Before Bishop started her career in the Cooperative Extension Service, she taught home economics and civics to middle and high school students in Hagerman, New Mexico, after earning a Bachelor of Science in home economics from NMSU in 1985. However, her career goal was to become a 4-H home economist agent for NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service.

“I participated in 4-H for 11 years during my childhood in Bernalillo County, and I loved all the activities we did. So, when I went to school, I studied to become a 4-H home economist agent,” she said.

Bishop’s opportunity to join the Cooperative Extension Service came in 1987, when a position for a home economics agent became available in Quay County – a place she didn’t know much about but quickly grew to love. She also was able to devote her time to the Quay County 4-H program, helping to coordinate annual horse shows, rodeos, project and contest workshops, and fundraising efforts. In 1989, she earned a Master of Science in home economics.

Bishop has received praise for the many programs she implemented for adults, including diabetes education workshops and presentations and a weight-training program for seniors.

“Quay County is unique in that it doesn’t have any registered dieticians working in the area, and it’s 110 miles from the nearest dietetic services,” Bishop said. “We estimate that 25 percent of our families have at least one member with diabetes. I have worked over the years to provide education to fill this gap in services.”

Since 1999, Bishop has offered community workshops on diabetes to a variety of groups, averaging four presentations per year. “Most of these presentations focus on meal planning and preparing healthy food and have reached more than 650 people in the past 20 years,” she said.

Additionally, Bishop worked to develop and coordinate child care trainings and workshops for area child care providers. She estimates that 797 people received child care training through her presentations and workshops, saving local providers nearly $30,000 in travel and training costs.

“Our child care training model was replicated in several counties during this time,” she said. “The workshops ended with the implementation of the child care training and technical assistant program implemented by the state.”

Bishop, who’s also a full professor, has received many awards for service and contributions as an Extension agent. In May, she received the Distinguished County Agent Award from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. In June, she received the Eastern District County Agent Service Award.

Bishop said her decision to retire came two years ago, and she’s been working to get ready ever since. She plans to spend her free time with her family and travel with her husband. But, even in her retirement, Bishop plans to stay active in some of the programs she administered over the years, including the weight-training program “Strong Seniors Stay Young” and the Extension Association of Quay County.

“I loved my job, and that made it harder to decide to retire,” she said. “I loved all the variety, the learning, the different projects and activities, and feeling like I was filling a need and making a difference.” She added: “I’ll miss working with all the kids and seeing them grow and learn new skills.”

A successor to take over Bishop’s duties in the Quay County Extension Office has not yet been named. For more information about the office, visit http://quayextension.nmsu.edu.

Community members attended a 30-year review of Family and Consumer Sciences in Quay County Aug. 2 at the Quay County Exhibit Center in Tucumcari.