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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Jan. 27 State Conversation on Youth Development Helps Set National 4-H

ALBUQUERQUE - Young people and adults from across New Mexico will present their best ideas about the future of 4-H during a Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century that 4-H is sponsoring on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the Wyndham Hotel in Albuquerque.

4-H members and adult volunteers in every New Mexico county have been participating in local conversations over the last few months as part of 4-H's national centennial.

In the county events, participants were asked to describe the services and support young people need to achieve success in their lives, and to suggest what 4-H can do in the next three to five years to create a better future for youth and for the country. Results from these county conversations will be discussed at the state conversation, and the best ideas will be forwarded to the national level.

4-H is a nonformal educational program of New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. Extension agents in all 33 counties coordinate 4-H and youth development programs that provide opportunities for kids to learn life skills, gain knowledge while having fun, and make contributions in such areas as environmental education, community service and current youth issues. The program helps participants develop self-esteem, leadership and management skills, communication skills, personal responsibility and decision-making ability.

About 47,000 young people and 4,700 volunteers in New Mexico participate in 4-H. At the national level, more than 6.8 million young people are involved in 4-H programs annually.

Local conversations similar to the ones in New Mexico have been held in more than 3,000 counties across the country since October, and state conversations are now underway in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and five U.S. territories. Results from state conversations will be discussed at a national conversation in February in Washington, D.C, which will include about 1,600 4-H representatives from around the country. Final results will then be compiled in a report and presented to President Bush, his cabinet and Congress in April.

"This may be the biggest undertaking during the first 100 years of 4-H," said Jesse Holloway, head of the State 4-H Office in Las Cruces. "We're creating a blueprint for youth programs in every community in America."

At least eight New Mexico 4-H members and two chaperones will be chosen to participate in the national conversation during the event Sunday at the Wyndham Hotel, Holloway said.

More than 100,000 people are expected to participate in the county and state conversations. As part of the initiative, young people are being asked to join a new Power of Youth Pledge Campaign through which 4-H members and nonmembers make individual civic commitments to do volunteer work in their local communities this year.

For more information about 4-H, call your local Extension office, or contact the state 4-H office at (505) 646-3026.