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Decker Leads 4-H Program in Otero County

ALAMOGORDO - Otero County's new 4-H agent is eager to match children with programs that reflect their interests.

"No matter what you like to do, you can find something in 4-H that will appeal to you," said Taryn Decker, 4-H agent for New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "4-H is for everyone. There is always something available, from pottery to shooting sports."

Decker started meeting 4-H members and participating in 4-H activities even before her first day of work May 9. Already, she has attended a youth development program at Mesa Verde Ranch and conducted judging contest practices for 4-H'ers in wool, livestock, parliamentary procedure, horticulture and meats.

Decker brings solid judging experience. She was a four-time state qualifier in poultry judging as an FFA student in Brownfield, Texas, where she was born and grew up. She judged meats and livestock while attending South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. Decker also was a member of Collegiate 4-H and Collegiate FFA, and served as president of Collegiate 4-H during her senior year at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.

Along with her expertise in traditional 4-H programs, Decker is excited about involving more children in a wider array of 4-H activities.

"I'd like to see us grow and expand," Decker said. She believes prospective members might be interested in 4-H's rocketry, gardening and forestry projects, topics of particular interest in the county. Decker is particularly interested in reaching out to children at Holloman Air Force Base and starting a club in Alamogordo to complement the county's rural clubs.

Decker earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural services and development from Tarleton State in 2004. As a child, her involvement in 4-H ranged from shooting sports and foods to swine and sheep. She specialized in showing fine wool sheep.

"I like working with animals and working with children who are showing animals," she said.

Decker's new assignment is familiar territory. She has vacationed with her family in Cloudcroft since she was a baby.