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ALBUQUERQUE ¬¬- The New Mexico Affiliate of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences hosted the national organization's 77th annual session in Albuquerque the last week of September.
NEAFCS members are Cooperative Extension Service professionals in the field of family and consumer science, commonly known as home economists, including program coordinators, specialists and retirees. More than 800 members and guests from 45 states attended the conference.
Lowell Catlett, dean of the New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, was the opening ceremony keynote speaker. In his presentation, titled "Leading in a World of Change," he told the audience that with knowledge doubling approximately every 13 months, the speed and availability of information staggers the imagination.
"As Extension educators, you will help our society adapt to the changes it is facing," Catlett said. "In this world, it is not only critical to be connected and technology savvy, but grounded and connected to plants, animals and people, which is the cornerstone of Extension."
Retired NMSU Extension home economist Owaissa Heiman was one of 18 past presidents recognized during the opening ceremony. The Clayton resident was the organization's president in 1968.
It was first time for the New Mexico affiliation to host the national conference, which rotates among four regions of the county.
"It has been a joy to work with the planning committee including New Mexico Affiliate co-liaisons Connie Moyers and Linda Wells," said Marsha Lockard, president of the national association and an Idaho Extension educator. "The special events, such as the evening at the Albuquerque Museum of Art in Old Town where agriculture agents demonstrated roasting chile, have given us a wonderful opportunity to experience the multicultural Land of Enchantment."
"It's an honor and pleasure to be able to host the conference," said Wells, NMSU coordinator of the Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition program. "Through the support, donations and dedication of the college's staff, various Extension agent associations and agents from the 13 western region states, we were able to successfully showcase the Land of Enchantment for all of the attendees."
"Guiding Extension Professionals Along the Route to Empowerment" was the conference theme, which was selected because of New Mexico's location on Historic Route 66.
"The conference is an opportunity for family and consumer sciences Extension professionals from around the country to share educational programs, honor award winners and to gain new ideas and tools to incorporate into their programming," Lockard said of the conference.
During concurrent sessions, the educators attended presentations in nutrition, food safety and nutrition, financial management, human development and parent education, health, community development, technology and social media, aging and 4-H programs in housing and clothing.
NMSU Extension educators presented a recently completed curriculum for the "Just Be It! Healthy and Fit" program for fifth grade students during the concurrent sessions.
"We had several in-depth educational sessions where the participants traveled to various locations away from the conference headquarters at the Downtown Hyatt Hotel," Moyers said. "During these outings, they were able to get a feel of what makes New Mexico unique."
These sessions were held at locations in the Albuquerque area on a variety of topics. Locations included Acoma Pueblo, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Albuquerque BioPark. Topics ranged from Native American health issues and partnering with foundations to working with Hispanics, creating community walking trails, and marketing value-added products.
During the Showcase of Excellence poster presentations, family and consumer science educators from across the nation provided information about programs they have created.
Posters presented by NMSU Extension agents included "Social media utilizations by county agents," "Exercise programs improve blood pressure and activity levels for those at-risk for diabetes," "School-based SNAP-Ed nutrition educator pilot program," and "New Mexico 4-H Home Economics School."
Next year's annual session will be held Sept. 24-28 in Columbus, Ohio.
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