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NMSU hosts Four Corners region 4-H agent conference

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Maintaining and upgrading "the roadways to positive youth development" was the theme of the Four Corners 4-H Agent Conference held in Albuquerque May 1-3.


New Mexico State University hosted more than 100 Cooperative Extension Service agents from New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona at the professional development in-service, which is held every four years.

"This conference is a great opportunity for 4-H agents from the four states of our region to learn about each other's programs and to get ideas about what they can do in their county," said Frank Hodnett, head of the NMSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Department. "They get to see different perspectives of ways to deliver programs to youth in science, citizenship and healthy living."

Guest speakers, break-out sessions on technology, peer-reviewed presentations, poster sessions and networking opportunities ensured that all participants would be able to learn something useful for improving the programs in their home counties and states.

The use of technology is the key to upgrading the roadways to positive youth development, according to keynote speaker Barbara Chamberlin, NMSU Extension instructional design and educational media specialist. She spoke on ways agents can use technology to enhance their programs and make their jobs easier.

"Agents had the opportunity to attend a variety of technology-related sessions during the 'technology tools of the trade' portion of the conference," said Jacqueline Baca, NMSU Santa Fe County Extension home economist and conference planning committee chair. "They attended sessions that complemented their programs, or were about things that they are interested in but haven't had an opportunity to learn about, or topics they may know about but want to find more in-depth information."

Sessions included social media, video production, web tools, and techie roundtables where agents could share things they've learned using technology and find answers from other agents regarding technical difficulties.

The National 4-H Council is focused on helping youth succeed in science. During the conference, agents could attend science-related sessions, including tools for effective science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, and 4-H science learning curriculum on robotics, animal science, renewable energy and embryology.

"The remainder of the conference sessions were peer-reviewed presentations by agents," Baca said of the 20-plus workshops. "It is an opportunity for us to show our programs that incorporate our own research, such as New Mexico's Just Be It! Healthy and Fit program for fifth grade students."

Two presentations addressed issues faced by agents in the Four Corner region. One involved working with Latino advisory councils, while the other focused on providing 4-H programs in the Navajo Nation.

During the poster session, New Mexico agents shared information on three programs: RiverXchange Youth Water Field Day at NMSU's Sustainable Agricultural Science Center at Alcalde; Water Ripples: An Interactive Approach to Water Education; and New Mexico 4-H Home Economics School.