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New Extension team aims to help people in Luna County

Trying to figure out why your lawn isn't as green as you would like? Looking for tips on how to save money while cooking healthy food? Need a certification in pesticide application? If you live in or around Deming, N.M., there is a new team at New Mexico State University's Luna County Extension Office willing to help.

"We just want people to know that we are here," said, Jack Blandford, Luna County extension agent. "All it takes is a phone call, an e-mail, whatever. We will help them."

The Luna County Extension Office is part of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. As part of its land-grant mission, NMSU operates an extension office in every county in New Mexico. Local advisory committees and stakeholder groups largely determine what educational programs are conducted in each community.

Blandford started at the Luna County office in August. Since then, he says his focus has been on building relationships with the community as well as local farmers and ranchers. During the rainy season this past summer he fielded numerous questions about trouble with home gardens, trees and pests from around the county.

"We have to have community support," Blandford said. "If we are not going out into the community and trying to help people, we won't win that support."

Barbara Brokaw, the extension home economist for Luna County, has been with the office since January. She and Blandford have been working to strengthen the county's 4-H program by recruiting more participants.

"I feel we are lucky here in Luna County," she said. "People want us here. Whenever I go out, people are very happy to have us. This is still a very active, strong agricultural community. There's a demand for the programs we offer."

The newest addition to the office is Sandra Saenz, a nutrition educator. She started in November and is currently coordinating a series of Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition (ICAN) classes in the county. The classes provide hands-on, needs-based education in the areas of healthy food choices, food preparation, food safety and food resource management.

Other popular services the Luna County office provides include diabetes programs, daycare training and nutrition education courses.

The Luna County Extension Office phone number is (575) 546-8806. Blandford can be reached at jbland@nmsu.edu. Brokaw can be reached at bbrokaw@nmsu.edu. Saenz can be reached at sandras@nmsu.edu. For more information on NMSU's extension and outreach programs, visit http://extension.nmsu.edu/.