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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU College of ACES welcomes new professor, family resource management specialist

Date: 05/01/2016

As family resource management resource specialist, Bryce Jorgensen?s job is to work with agents with the Cooperative Extension Service on how to talk to families throughout the state about financial education.

By Adriana M. Chávez

Bryce Jorgensen thought he was trading in the cold East Coast for sunny, warm New Mexico. But when his family arrived in Las Cruces on Dec. 28, they were welcome by a historic snow storm.

?My kids told me, ?You said it was going to be warm in New Mexico!?? said Jorgensen, who started as an assistant professor and the family resource management specialist in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University.

As family resource management resource specialist, Jorgensen?s job is to work with agents with the Cooperative Extension Service on how to talk to families throughout the state about financial education. Jorgensen said he?s enjoying his new job and living in New Mexico, where he, his wife and five children are closer to family.

Jorgensen is originally from Utah and his wife is from Arizona. The couple met while attending Brigham Young University and married in 2000. After graduating, they moved to Pennsylvania, where Jorgensen worked for Walmart.

?I learned that I hated retail, and in trying to figure out what I was good at and what came natural to me, I decided to go back and get my Ph.D.,? Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen enrolled at Virginia Tech and eventually earned two master?s degrees and a doctorate. He was hired at East Carolina University and worked there for five-and-a-half years before he was offered a job at NMSU.

?We had been out east for 13 years and we wanted to be closer to siblings, grandparents, cousins, and the job was a great job and something I?d enjoy, so we accepted,? Jorgensen said.

In the four months since the Jorgensen family moved to Las Cruces, Jorgensen said they?ve been enjoying the Mexican food (especially the green chile) and the weather.

?My kids have met friends in the neighborhood and at school, they are involved in sports and other activities, and we?re enjoying the sunshine,? Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen has also dived right into extension work, and so far has traveled to Rio Arriba, Albuquerque and Santa Fe to work with agents on spreading financial literacy and creating programs to help people manage their finances.

?One of the challenges the agents are facing is to get families motivated to come and learn about money management,? Jorgensen said. ?They don?t want to discuss anything that has to do with their money, although it would be beneficial if they did. We?re working on how agents can present material in a way that?s uplifting and helpful and not degrading.?

Jorgensen said he is working with extension agents on building their capacity to provide family finance programming by conducting trainings in the region. The goal, Jorgensen said, is to help agents become more comfortable with talking to communities about financial planning.

?Generally, families that are struggling financially are involved too much with payday loans and predatory lending,? Jorgensen said. ?They?re not banked, they abuse or incorrectly use credit cards so they?re in debt, and they have issues paying that debt so their credit is not very good.?

In return, buying a car becomes more expensive, and the ability to purchase a home becomes difficult, Jorgensen said. Among the goals agents hope to achieve are to get families to change their financial attitude, get them to think about the future and not compete with their neighbors and friends.

?A lot of times we talk with these families who have large screen TVs and big trucks, but they?re on food stamps and other assistance,? Jorgensen said. ?We talk to them about spending money in ways that help them accomplish goals for their family rather than spending all their money on entertainment, going out to eat, new clothing, big screen TVs and new cell phones. People don?t want to talk about that, so how do we motivate them to want to make wise financial decisions? One of those ways is to talk about what they want for their children?s future. At the end of the day, our goal is to help individuals and families make better financial decisions so they can succeed financially in today?s increasingly complex marketplace.?

Esther Devall, head of the Extension Family and Consumer Sciences department in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, said Jorgensen is a welcome addition to the department?s faculty.

?We are very excited to have Dr. Jorgensen as part of our faculty,? Devall said. ?He has tremendous experience in helping families of all income and education levels understand complex financial issues and make wise decisions in managing their family?s resources. He makes learning about financial management fun, and helps people figure out small steps that can lead to a brighter future for their families.?

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