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4-H district competitions get help with healthy living focus

Regional 4-H competitions get underway this week in four of New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension offices and this year the district competitions have additional support to help stress healthy lifestyles.

In May, Molina Healthcare announced they would provide financial assistance for 4-H Healthy Living initiatives and Mindy Turner, a 4-H youth development specialist working out of the New Mexico State 4-H Office on NMSU's campus, secured $2,500 from Molina to help support the competitions that will take place in New Mexico over the next three days.

"We strive to impact youth and families in positive way and are happy to receive support in teaching young people to lead healthy and productive lives," Turner said.

The 4-H program has addressed food and nutrition in one form or another since its inception and included a "healthiest boy and girl contest" in the 1920s. Health programs were fine tuned several times including in 1994 focus on fitness and nutrition and more recently in 2007 with "healthy living" being outlined as one of three 4-H National Mission Mandates, the others being citizenship and science, engineering and technology.

The Healthy Living mandate has been woven into existing competitions that include Consumer Decision Making, Home Economics Skill-A-Thon and Favorite Foods Show. The Favorite Foods Show, for example, includes the categories Nutritious Snack or Beverage, Fruit or Vegetable and Uniquely New Mexico with the stipulation that no desserts are allowed in the competition.

"Developing healthy lifestyles now will impact the overall health of not only our future families, but our communities," Turner said.

The northwest contest in Grants and the southwest contest in Deming, begin today with the northeast contest in Espanola and southeast contest in Alamogordo beginning Thursday.