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Dean Hired as Socorro County Extension Program Director

ALBUQUERQUE - Thomas Dean began work in December as program director /youth program coordinator in the Socorro County office of New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

Dean will coordinate local 4-H programs and will work with county growers and ranchers to help them improve yields and adopt new technologies.

"Ranching is particularly important in Socorro County, so it's a good fit for me given my academic background in range sciences and my practical experience in 4-H programs," Dean said. "I feel good to go."

A Carlsbad native, Dean was active in 4-H, serving as state 4-H president. He earned a bachelor's degree in range science in 1996 and a master's degree in range nutrition in 2001, both from NMSU.

He served as interim agricultural agent in Catron and Otero counties in 1997. He helped start Otero County's first noxious weed program, assisted with 4-H and coached judging teams.

From 1998 to 2000, Dean worked as a graduate assistant at NMSU's Corona Range and Livestock Research Center, about 80 miles east of Socorro, where he led a two-year study comparing grazing treatments' effect on cattle diet quality and average daily weight gain.

He was a county agent for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service from 2000 to 2001 in Brown County. In his 18 months in Brownwood, he led an aggressive school enrichment program that helped increase the county's 4-H enrollment by 50 percent, from 300 to 453 members. He also organized a beef show team.

In Socorro County, Dean plans to increase 4-H enrollment by about 10 percent this year alone. He will hire a new 4-H agent in the next few months with federal funds approved by the U.S. Justice Department last year to strengthen outreach to at-risk youth around the state.

"We want to expand and develop the 4-H youth program in Socorro County, particularly reaching out to disadvantaged, underserved and at-risk youth," said Dan Liesner, Extension Southwest District Director. "Tom's broad background in 4-H will help make that goal a reality."