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New Mexico State University

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New Mexico 4-H leaders want more youth to experience 4-H

Being in 4-H is more than raising livestock, baking cookies and riding horses. It is a tried and true youth development program that introduces youth to being leaders, which in turn is preparing them for the rest of their lives.

4-H state leadership team members, from left, Augusta Ahlm of Raton, Jeremy Witte of Las Cruces, Savannah Arrey of Las Cruces, Brad Cosper of Los Lunas, and Kassi Grooms of Las Cruces, pack food safety awareness packets into a box for the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center as a fundraiser for entertainment at the State 4-H Conference, July 12-16. (NMSU Photo by Jane Moorman)

The New Mexico 4-H leadership team of state officers, ambassadors and diplomats would like other youth to get involved in local clubs. To help motivate their fellow 4-H members to attend the annual state leadership conference, the team will sponsor a band at the state conference to add to the fun of the weekend event.

"State leadership conference is when kids from across the state come together to learn how to develop their leadership skills," said Augusta Ahlm, state secretary from Raton.

"We have thought of ways to get kids to come to the state conference and one idea was to have a dance with a live band," said Courtney Hurt, state ambassador from Deming. The last night of the State 4-H Conference, which will be held July 12-16 in Las Cruces, will have a dance with live music.

To pay for the band, the leadership team spent a weekend in Albuquerque working on a fundraising project.

One activity combined a service project with making money as the 14 youth filled home safety information kits for the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center. The orange knapsack bags are filled with informational literature about food safety and agricultural and bio-terrorism safety.

The second project turns a craft activity into cash.

As the youth worked on the project, they talked about what they have learned through 4-H, including leadership skills.

"We think it is very important that high school kids develop leadership skills," said Ahlm. Hurt agreed that 4-H gives members the skills to be the leaders of tomorrow.

"4-H is a good way to experience and learn things and stay out of trouble," said Brandi Smith, ambassador from Aztec. "You learn leadership skills that you will need to be successful in life."

For Garrett Schmidt, state song and recreation leader from Corrales, taking a leadership role in his local club, county 4-H council and at the state level has taught him the importance of patience. "A calm leader is a good leader. You have to have an even keel and a steady mind-set in order to work diligently," he said.

Chelsea Rodriquez, state ambassador from Animas, said she has learned how to speak in front of people and to voice her opinion. "By serving as a club and county officer, I've learned how to run meetings and be a leader," she said. To her, being a leader means supporting everyone and helping them accomplish their goals.

Savannah Arrey, state diplomat from Las Cruces, added that she has learned from her leadership positions that she is "a role model to every little kid for them to become something in life. Being a leader means helping them pursue their dreams."

Through the leadership roles she has taken in 4-H, Taylor Whitney, state diplomat from Dexter, says she has gone out of her comfort zone to help people realize what 4-H is all about.

The youths also discussed what they gained from being in 4-H. Georgia Mitchell, state vice president from Tucumcarri, said "4-H is great because you get an opportunity to meet people from all over the state. You get to choose projects that interest you and develop skills by doing the projects."

Chelsea Fons, state diploma from Hobbs, said she has gained "a plethora of things, including leadership skills, how to get along with people, public speaking and how to lead a group."

"I have been able to gain experience that I can share with other 4-H members to get them started in the right direction to be a better leader than I am today," said Brad Cosper, state diplomat from Los Lunas.

Jeremy Witte, state ambassador from Las Cruces, added "4-H has given me a good foundation for anything I want to do."