Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service has grown more than 300 percent in grants and contracts over the last five years.
"We're getting more money because we're actively soliciting for grants and contracts," said Billy Dictson, associate dean and director of Extension.
Extension employs a full-time faculty member, Wendy Hamilton, to track down potential grants for other faculty and staff members and to help write the applications, in addition to other duties.
"We're also serving a much larger segment of New Mexico," he said. "The more you serve, the more recognition you receive and the more widely you become known to deliver educational programs."
Grants fund many projects in Extension, including the welfare-to-work program called New Mexico Works. Some other projects that are grant funded include the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (FSNEP) and the Share Care program.
FSNEP is for food-stamp eligible citizens in 29 New Mexico counties and on the Zuni reservation. Through FSNEP, citizens are taught how to better use Food Stamp benefits by teaching concepts in basic nutrition, food safety, food preparation and food management. FSNEP is in its fifth year and was awarded over $1.5 million for this fiscal year.
Share Care provides five 4-H after school substance abuse education programs that reach a minimum of 2,000 at risk youth. The program is centered in five New Mexico counties spanning northern, southern, western and eastern parts of the state. It affects youth from pre-school through twelfth grade, depending on location.
Dictson said that Extension has been looking for new programs that enhance and support the mission of Cooperative Extension Service and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences . Extension was developed on the four base programs of home economics, agriculture, community development and youth. Extension's mission is to help the people of New Mexico use research-based knowledge to improve their quality of life, he said.
"By being able to deliver to other audiences via grants and contracts it enables us to supply better monetary support to base programs, thus enhancing them as well," Dictson said.
Another area of the college that has seen an increase in grants and contracts is the Agricultural Experiment Station.
"A lot of factors affect the increase that we have been seeing in grants and contracts," said LeRoy Daughtery associate director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. In particular, he credits the quality of faculty. "There has been an effort to build a faculty that is much more competitive for national grants and contracts," Daughtery said.
Also the new Center for Sustainable Development of Arid Lands with its high quality labs is a plus, he said.
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