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Chaves County girl designs board game to teach about NMSU's 4-H program

When it came time for Maddy Porter to choose a 4-H project, her imagination went to an idea of something that could be enjoyed by all - and would also serve as a learning tool for her fellow 4-Hers.

Three people sitting around board game
Maddy Porter plays "The 4-H Game" with her mom, Tracee Porter (left), and her 4-H leader Maureen McGinn. The game is designed to teach participants about the 4-H program. (NMSU photo by Audry Olmsted)

"The 4-H Game," which is what the 10-year-old is calling the game - for now - is a little bit Life, a little bit Monopoly and a little bit Trivial Pursuit with some four-leaf clovers and cow patties mixed in. She created the game as part of her participation in 4-H, a youth development program organized by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

The rules are simple: Move your pieces across the board, answer questions about the 4-H program and try to avoid obstacles that could see you paying big bucks or moving back to the start of the game. Along the way are opportunities for the players to earn cash and extra rolls of the dice. The game is designed for six players and is geared toward 4-Hers of all ages.

"The goal of the game is to get to the finish line first by answering the questions correctly and getting the most money," Porter said.

This is Porter's second rendition of the game. Though her fellow 4-H friends have yet to play the newer version, Porter is optimistic "The 4-H Game" will be a big hit.

"I think they are really going to like this one," she said. "I like everything about it. It has color to it; it has jokes and pictures. I think when people see the new game, they are going to say, 'Wow!'"

Porter said she used a combination of books and online searches to create a variety of questions related to 4-H for the game. Players could be asked what was passed in 1914 that established the National Cooperative Extension Service, or what year the clover was chosen as the emblem for 4-H. They may also be asked to describe activities done in 4-H or to list different woodworking projects to advance in the game.

Porter said "The 4-H Game" is an educational tool that will help children learn what 4-H is all about.

"If you are playing the game and you land on a question and get it wrong, it makes you want to play more so you can win,' she said. "It's learning and playing a game at the same time."

Porter believes the game can be beneficial to all 4-Hers across the state and is looking into opportunities to make it available to each county Extension. "The 4-H Game" is a copyright of Maddux Porter.

Designing a board game is just one of the countless activities 4-H members can participate in.

"4-H provides so many fun, hands-on educational opportunities for our youth," said Sandra Key Barraza, Chaves County Extension agricultural agent and program director. "From the traditional projects to newer materials, all activities focus on youth learning important life skills."

For more information on NMSU's Chaves County 4-H program, contact Barraza at 575-622-3210 or sbarraza@nmsu.edu.