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Cardenas Leads 4-H Outreach in Luna County

LAS CRUCES - Marie Cardenas will lead outreach efforts as a 4-H agent with the Luna County office of New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

Cardenas is among six new agents hired on three-year contracts with federal funding to reach at-risk youth and strengthen 4-H clubs. She will spend about 75 percent of her time in outreach and 25 percent working with existing 4-H programs.

"My goal is to get more kids and new kids to participate in 4-H," she said. "To do that, I want activities to be informational but fun."

Cardenas, who is bilingual, hopes to start a 4-H club or project in Columbus, which borders Palomas, Mexico. Since joining NMSU in late summer, she has begun working with local middle schools, after-school centers, scouting programs and health fairs. She is also interested in introducing clothing, sewing or quilting projects, and is already seeking donations of sewing machines and supplies.

Cardenas has six years' experience as a family and consumer sciences agent for Texas Cooperative Extension in Reeves and Loving counties.

In 2000, she won a New Professional Award from the Texas Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. Earlier this year, she was on a team nominated for a superior service award for the Better Living for Texans project.

She credits a high school home economics teacher for helping her find her profession.

Cardenas, a native of Robstown, Texas, near Corpus Christi, left high school to marry and move. When she returned to school as mother of a 4-month-old daughter, she chose to take a child development course. She enjoyed the class so much that she was inspired to become a home economics teacher. On the advice of her present husband, Luis, she started her college career.

Cardenas earned an associate's degree in general business from Western Texas College, which she put to use as owner-instructor of a karate school in Colorado City, Texas, for four years. She returned to college full-time in 1992, earning a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from Texas Tech University in 1997.