Grant County Extension Connection

Episode 3: Dr. Steve Beck, NMSU 4-H Department Head

December 10, 2019 Jessica Swapp, Dr. Steve Beck Season 1 Episode 3
Grant County Extension Connection
Episode 3: Dr. Steve Beck, NMSU 4-H Department Head
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Steve Beck visits with me during the 2019 4-H Agent In-Service about his background in 4-H as well as what he does in the 4-H program. We visit about his role in the NM 4-H Youth Development program and what the benefits of the 4-H program are to the youth and their families in New Mexico. We talk about 4-H Agent In-Service as well as Dr. Beck's goals and vision for the NM 4-H Program.

Hooky with Sloane by Bird Creek
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Jessica:

Welcome to the Extension Connection podcast. The Grant County Cooperative Extension Service is here to help connect you with research based information about economic development, energy and water, farm and ranch, yard and garden, natural resources, health and well being, and our very popular youth development program 4-H. I'm your host, Jessica Swapp, the 4-H and agriculture agent here in Grant County, New Mexico. We are part of New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science. And we are here to serve you. So let's get started. Hello everybody. Today I have on the podcast, Dr. Beck. He is the New Mexico 4-H Department Head. So thank you very much for being here, Dr. Beck.

Steve:

Thank you for having me.

Jessica:

So let's talk a little bit about you , uh , your education, your background, anything you want to tell us.

Steve:

Alright, I was raised in Oklahoma, lived on the edge of town and started working with my neighbors. Um , from the time I was in middle school, helping them with their horses and their cow calf operation. Um, wanted to be involved in agriculture, really wasn't involved in 4-H a great deal as, as a youth. I did join at one point, a volunteer came by the school and asked me to join and, and I joined and filled out the card and still remember the three project areas, I, I received my books in, it was rabbit, baking and dog project. I bought a rabbit and put it in a cage that wasn't designed for rabbit and the cats ate it and I don't really remember what happened to the baking book and didn't really figure out the dog deal along the way either and, and lost connection with the club. But quite honestly, that was kind of my 4-H experience. Um, when I got in high school, I got involved in FFA and started raising , um, show pigs and some show calves. And those were real formative years of my life and , and ones that kinda guided me to where I, where I am today. When I went to school, I went to , went to Oklahoma State University and got in the agriculture education program and got my BS in Ag Ed. You know, when I started, I wanted to, I thought I wanted to be an ag teacher. Found out real quickly that I didn't like being locked in the classroom, um , day after day. One of the summers while I was in college, I did an internship with a corporate hog farm and kind of thought that that seemed exciting and something I might want to do, and, and the corporate hog farming was coming to Oklahoma during as when I graduated. So I tried that for about six years and uh , definitely decided that I didn't like being locked in the, in the farm day after day , um , wanted to be out where I worked with more people. So I applied for a position to be an Ag/4-H agent sharing both responsibilities. And quite honestly, my focus was agriculture when I was applying, and my thought was I'm going to be an ag agent and worked with producers and the 4-H was just kind of the extra thing. I went to a small rural county in Oklahoma at Northwest Oklahoma, did , uh , uh, did the ag agent stuff, but started doing the 4-H stuff and actually real quickly discovered that, I love the 4-H program. I loved working with the 4-H families, watching kids grow and, and develop life skills and uh , and found it very rewarding. Um , so I was in that county for a little over nine years and actually left that county as I was county director and, and Ag and/4-H agent in that county and moved to , uh , a little bit larger county where I was able to be just as I say just a, to be solely , uh , a 4-H agent because I wanted to work with 4-H alone. Worked in that county for, for several years. Uh , before I had the opportunity to move to the state 4-H office in Oklahoma where I oversaw the companion animal programs, the camping programs and uh, ran the state officer team in Oklahoma for about seven years. At that point , uh, my kids had moved out of the house. I got my PhD while I was working in the state 4-H office. I really didn't have a plan about what I wanted to do with my PhD. I was happy with working in the state 4-H office in Oklahoma, but New Mexico State had reached out and, and asked if I'd be interested in and looking at being the program leader here. And so came out and, and uh, gave New Mexico look and, and uh, visited with some of the administration here at New Mexico and put in my application and took the position as, as the state program leader for New Mexico 4-H and has found that to be a very rewarding and a very enjoyable and I always call it a comfortable fit. It's the best way I can describe it, you know, just kind of to like I'm home.

Jessica:

Yeah. It's all that green chile you had when you came to visit.

Steve:

Oh my gosh. Yes, no, yeah we.

Jessica:

Hooked from the get go.

Steve:

Made the pro con list with the wife about, you know, why we, why we would stay, why we would go and, and uh, the food was on the top, it was , was, it was high on the list. We were coming to New Mexico.

Speaker 2:

Very good, very good. And I have to add to let everybody know if you're hearing a little bit of Christmas music in the background, we're actually live at 4-H agent In-service, which is kind of a training and we're going to talk about that in a minute, but I just want to let every know if you hear people talking in the background or a little bit of Christmas music, we're actually in the lobby of the host hotel having this, this interview. Talking about your position, Dr. Beck, tell us about what your job is. What exactly do you do for the 4-H program

Steve:

For the state, 4-H program, um , there's actually numerous tasks, but you know, my purpose is, my real purpose in all of it is to support the 4-H agents so that they can do their jobs properly and to build networks with other organizations, other departments in the college, other universities that uh, so that we can come up with new innovative ideas and , and new program materials and resources to support our agents in doing their jobs and reaching the 4-H members.

Jessica:

Awesome. Here at 4-H agent In-service, this is kind of a , an annual training that's held for all of the 4-H agents in this state. What do you hope for us to get out of things like this? The in-service training's?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, the in-service training's I find to be very valuable part of the year and I , and I , I hope the agents do too . You know, my goal is, you know, that we get a little bit of education. We , we we learn a little bit from, from the workshops that are presented. We learn a little bit from the speakers that come in and speak to us. I hope we do a lot of networking, learning from one another. I hope we do a lot of discussions. Um, we purposely actually plan discussion periods within our in-service where it's not us, the ideas and us teaching or, or , or preaching a message that the idea is for us to have the opportunity to listen from the agents because, you know, it's not my 4-H program. It's not the state 4-H's, 4-H program. It's , it's all of our 4-H program from our, from our youth and our families to , to our agents. And if we're not listening both ways, you know, we won't be successful in our programming efforts, you know, and then , uh, you know, then I hope to, I hope we're networking with each other. And then I lastly, you know, I hope we're just, we're building relationships to where agents are comfortable calling state 4-H faculty and asking for help, asking for advice. They're comfortable calling me with whenever they have problems that arise or just need to roll a new idea off their heads. And so that we're , we're truly a resource for our agents and not, not just someone out delivering policy and procedure .

Jessica:

Yeah , and I have to add to Dr. Beck that , uh, this is actually one of my favorite things in the year to do because if you're listening to this from outside of the Grant County area, the agents that come to this, we're able to network with each other and each agent does things a little bit differently. And sometimes the way an agent on the other side of the state might do something, might be, might be something that I could do where I'm at that might work better than what I'm already doing. So it's a great opportunity to get that networking , um , between the agents, share ideas, even share problems and have another agent come at your problem from a different direction and offer some solutions to that. It's absolutely invaluable. This is one of two things that I really like to do. Um, I also like the adult forum that um, we also have once a year. So if you're listening to this, I hope that you are talking to your agent about what they're learning at 4-H In-service or what they've learned at adult forum or if you haven't been to 4-H Adult Forum, I hope that that's something that you will reach out and go to. Cause I think it really helps also in burnout. Um , we all get burned out from time to time and sometimes you just need a little bit of something to re-light that fire and reignite some ideas. And I think in-service and adult forum does that we all get a lot of things out of it, especially things I probably wouldn't have normally really sought out , um , to learn about. And so we really get a lot of good education out of this. So let's talk about 4-H , uh , just a little bit , um, you know, why join 4-H, what makes it different. And what are your goals for the 4-H program in New Mexico?

Steve:

Yeah, my, my goals are to, you know, we have a very strong traditional program and I want to , I want to ensure that we, we protect those, those traditions and those values that our 4-H program are built upon. But I also have the goals that we will , we'll, we'll continue to innovate, continue to seek out and find new ideas and new ways to reach, reach audiences that, that, that we're not reaching. And you know, there's a , you know, there's a lot of youth in New Mexico that aren't getting the benefit of 4-H and you know, I think sometimes it's, you know, there's a lot of other programs out there. The thing that 4-H brings that a lot of a lot of programs are missing is very intentionally incorporate what we call our eight essential elements, which are actually found in the four concepts of belonging, independence, generosity and mastery. And it's a proven fact that programs that implement out of school time programs that implement those strategies, you know, they're four times more likely to lead to contribution in their communities. They're two times less likely to be involved in risky behaviors. They're two times more likely to participate in healthy behaviors, two times more likely to be involved in STEM activities and out of school time. There's just research after research and then it's fun . It , you know!

Jessica:

Right! It is!

Steve:

You know, we're, we're, we're always intentionally developing programs for , for youth to learn. But we know we're an out of school time program so we, you know, we don't invite kids to learn about, you know, animal nutrition because, you know, a lot of them wouldn't find that, so we do animal projects and we teach animal nutrition as part of that project. We don't teach kids and say, "hey, let's, let's learn about food science and the chemistry behind food science. We say, hey, let's bake cookies, and what happens if these ingredients get switched up or you know, y our, y our baking soda is bad." You know, we're kind of sneaky about the education that we provide kids. And then beyond just the educational merit that we teach kids, u m, you know, the, the science and i n those, you know, our real strength is in life skill development, teaching kids, u m, those skills that make them successful, contributing members of society, how to be cooperative w ith, with others. How to work as a team. U h, leadership skills, communication skills, u m, decision making, problem solving, you know, our judging contest or o ur, some of our most significant contests. I think that we have because, you know, you have to, you have to do critical thinking and then you have to defend the decision that you made. And I , I don't know o f any other program that really has a strong, as a set of, u h, those types of skills into, u h, i nto an event a s some of our judging contests do.

Jessica:

There's so much to be gained out of the 4-H program. That's that people don't know about, especially like our in school curriculums that we can do with teachers and being able to really bring home those STEM elements , um, in a real life way. Like you said it when we say, "hey, let's, let's learn about animal nutrition.", Well...that doesn't really sound fun, but hey, why don't you get an animal project going and then sneak that STEM stuff in there where it's fun because when it's fun you learn. So 4-H is really a great program. So if you're listening to this and you've been wondering, you know, I keep hearing about this 4-H, what is it? You know, I would encourage you to go visit your county agent and talk to them about the 4-H program where you live. I mean, if you're living, if you're living in Grant County and you can come talk to me. So to wrap things up, Dr. Beck, one, one question I have for you is what is, what does leadership mean to you?

Steve:

That's a , that's a good question. I see leadership as a cooperative effort in working with the people in your team towards a common vision and a common plan and being able to find ways to build each other up in , in terms of excitement and energy so that we can work towards and achieve that vision.

Jessica:

If anybody had any questions about the 4-H program, how could they get ahold of you?

Steve:

Oh, just go to the, just look up New Mexico 4-H on a web search and my contact information will be right there.

Jessica:

And if you're needing to reach me, you can always reach me at the Grant County Extension office at (575) 388-1559 and my email is jessiej, thats J-e-s-s-i-e-J, at nmsu.edu and that's repeated at the end of this podcast. Thank you very much Dr. Beck for being on the podcast today.

Steve:

All right , thank you Jessica.

Jessica:

Thanks everyone for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, don't forget to hit the subscribe button on Apple podcast, Stitcher, Google play, or whatever app you're using to listen to this podcast. Want more information? You can visit us at our website, grantextension.nmsu.edu follow us on Facebook at NMSU, Grant County, CES, Snapchat at Grant County NM 4-H, shoot us an email at [email protected] or give us a call, (575) 388-1559. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

Song Credit :

Hooky with Sloane by Bird Creek Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/... Music provided by FreeMusic109 https://youtube.com/FreeMusic109