Grant County Extension Connection

What is 4-H? Part II

January 29, 2021 Jessica Swapp Season 2 Episode 2
Grant County Extension Connection
What is 4-H? Part II
Show Notes Transcript

This episode focuses on answering what the 4-H program is. What do youth learn, what do they do, what is the impact on their lives from being in the program?  This episode features Interim 4-H Department Head, Dr. Laura Bittner, State 4-H Agent of Volunteer and Leadership Development, Cheryl Butterfield  Southwest District Department Head, Tom Dean, and Catron County Extension Agent, Tracy Drummond. 

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Speaker 1:

[inaudible] welcome to the extension connection podcast. The grand County cooperative extension service is here to help connect you with research based information about economic development, energy and water farming , ranch, Yarden garden, natural resources, health, and wellbeing, and our very popular youth development program. Four H I'm your host, just the swap , the four H an agriculture agent hearing Brent County in 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. Welcome back to my episode on what is four H part two. On this episode, I'm going to be talking to a lot of different people from department heads to district directors and other County agents and specialists in the four H program to discuss what four H can offer in terms of the different projects , um, the contest, shooting sports, all of those different things. So I hope you enjoy this episode.

Speaker 2:

And next on the podcast, I have Dr. Laura Bittner with me. Thank you for being on the podcast. Absolutely. Thank you for having me start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself. Kind of introduce yourself, your background and your education and anything you would like for all of us to know about you, sir. Thank you. Well, my name is Laura Bittner and I am currently serving as the interim department head for four 18 youth development at New Mexico state university. A little bit about my background. I spent a good portion of my youth in Southern California, the community where , where we were living was experiencing a lot of turmoil. And my mother decided that it was no longer a safe place for her to raise her two children. And so she made a decision to move to rural Southeastern Idaho. So I completed my earlier education in Southeast Idaho, and certainly after that, I moved to Utah completed my bachelor's and master's degree at Utah state university and found out while I was working on my master's degree. I had no intention of pursuing education by any stretch of the imagination, but I was offered an opportunity to teach some classes on campus. And , and so I took that opportunity and it changed the course of my entire life in 2008, many people listening may remember the economy took a turn and I applied for a job with New Mexico state university and the cooperative extension service. And I was offered by position in Valencia County, where I served as a family and consumer science agent for the past 11 years, several years ago, I decided that it was time for me to continue my education I , um, applied for and was accepted into the educational leadership and administration program at New Mexico state university completed my PhD in 2019. And , um, early this past year was , um, offered an opportunity to serve as the interim department head for four H . So it's, it's been an interesting ride in terms of career, but it has been so rewarding, incredibly challenging, and really exciting.

Speaker 3:

Wow. See, this is so cool. I learned all kinds of things. Um, just now about you and , and wow, California to Idaho, to Utah, New Mexico. You're, you're almost like a world traveler,

Speaker 2:

Elise , at least the Western part of the United States, but this is my home to stay. It is, it is the first place I've lived that has felt most like home to me, even though it's not really where I am from or where, where my family originated from.

Speaker 3:

Cool. Um, we're gonna, we're gonna get right down to the meat and potatoes of this deal. And , um, I kind of came up with this idea for this podcast episode, because I get asked this question a lot by families that may have not grown up in the four H program. I've never heard of the four H program. And they're always asking me, well, what is four H? And I know we're supposed to have our elevator speech ready, but I never seem to quite be able to have mine ready. And I sometimes find myself kind of stumbling as an agent to kind of explain, well, what is four H because it's so many different things to different people. And so I decided to , um, you know, ask a lot of my colleagues and , and, and the kids that we have in the program. And , and what, what is four H to you? So I'm going to put you on the hot seat and I'm going to ask you, Laura, what is Corey

Speaker 2:

Huge question, Jessica? And I absolutely understand why it may not always be the easiest thing to explain to someone because it is so big and so much I would describe Corey. Well, some of the facts, first of all, we know that four H is America's largest out of school educational programs for youth. We know that nationwide over 6 million youth now participate in four H I would describe four H as a youth led youth driven program that, that focuses on , uh, positive mentorship with adults. Um , hands-on projects and activities, learning skills, developing relationships , um, understanding leadership and having opportunity informal education, and it centers on what I mentioned before that idea of, of hands-on education and learning by doing so it really fits in, in my wheel house . And I think also in many of my colleagues as well,

Speaker 3:

It's pretty unique. Um, when you think about it to have a youth organization, that that is like you, like you explained, you know, led by the youth and it's driven by the youth. Um, I, I find that to be a very unique thing that four H has is that it's really the kids that are , are running, you know, they're their leadership positions and, and running their clubs and the County work that they do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . I think that, you know, that, like you mentioned, youth led youth care, then there are so many positives from that, but , but obviously the biggest one is that it then becomes really relevant to youth and they become incredibly invested in it. And, you know, in extension we're , we're always taught to , um, our programs are based on needs of the community. And, you know, the great thing about the four H program is the program is based on what you identify as their interests, their goals, what they want to see for their future, not just for their own life , but also for their families, for their communities and for the world that we all live in. So that approaches is so it's phenomenal. That's the easiest word to describe it as phenomenal. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

And what, what do you think that the youth gain by being in four H what's in it for them?

Speaker 2:

So many different things? Um, I read somewhere about how forage empowers young people with the skills to lead for a lifetime. And I love that statement. I think for youth, four-inch not only develop leadership skills in youth, but it increases their knowledge and understanding of the world. It helps them make better choices in their life . It helps them to live healthier. It builds their confidence. It teaches them about sportsmanship and work ethic. I think teamwork, communication skills , um , it instills in youth the importance of community service. I think the benefits of it and what is learned are so much greater than, than what we, we sometimes, or maybe outsider's view is that, and that is the projects that you've participate in. I think when we really look at the benefits of four H it's it's these lifelong skills that they're learning while they are engaging and participating in projects,

Speaker 3:

I think that's a really, really great answer to that question. There's probably so many things that the youth are gaining from the program that we'd have to, we'd have to sit down for hours to probably name all of them and all of the benefits that the kids gained . Now, I'm going to shift a little bit this direction , um, because when we have youth in a program, we do need some adult leadership , um , to kind of help guide our youth in the right direction. And we take on volunteers in the communities that don't get paid and they also get the chance to participate. What do you think is the impact of those adults on those youth that impact

Speaker 2:

It's huge. Um, I, I recently wrote a column for our volunteer leader line, a newsletter that goes out to all of our volunteer leaders across the state. You know, that the impact of a volunteer leader is so meaningful. I think the easiest way for people to understand this is, you know, we can maybe identify the role and importance that perhaps , um, adults in our, in our immediate family or extended family had on , on our life and how we navigate through the world. But there's something so powerful about an adult tapping into the life of a young person when they have solutely have no responsibility in doing so, other than it's just part of their heart, they just desire. They desire to be a mentor or role model to a young person. And I think that, you know , that relationship is so powerful. When I think about volunteers in the four H program, to me, there's a cornerstone there , they're the , they're the backbone. They are, they are the wheels on the ground. I mean, they are so many things to young people and absolutely essential to the success of, of a forage program as a whole, but definitely to, to the youth that they work with.

Speaker 3:

And I'm going to , I'm going to shift a little bit to talking about , um , my experience as a former teacher in the program. Um, cause you, you kind of jogged my memory about , um, you know, impactful people. Um, Tracy Drummond, who is now, my colleague was my four H agent when I was growing up and he used to come in to the school and do some of the programming,

Speaker 2:

Which is also another aspect of four H which I'm probably going to ask you about next. And I remember he would come in on Fridays and do, you know, kind of an ag lesson and Fridays were my favorite days to go to school because I did not want to miss, you know, add day where we got to learn things and see things that we never would have gotten to, you know , see or learn. And that's completely different from regular school. And I think at that point in time really started to set me on a trajectory towards being involved in agriculture. And so from a personal standpoint, it was very beneficial for me. We're often seen as well, four H is just an out of school type of thing, but we actually offer in school educational programming. Could you tell us a little bit more about that? Yes. So one of the great things about the four-inch program is the education that we're able to share with young people in schools , school, enrichment programming, and much like you mentioned, it can take on so many different looks that you spoke about your experience, you know , as a young person and a four H agent going into your school and providing education for your class. And, you know , one of the great things about this is that it exposes so many more young people to the forage program. It's a wonderful introduction, and it can really help to bring you into foray that may otherwise not have had that opportunity. No , I can speak from my own experience. I didn't learn about four eight and until I was, I was an educator and it wasn't something that was talked about in , in our community. I didn't know whether young people that were in the four H program. Um, and I, so I wish that I would have known about four eight and I guess adding to that, one of the great things about school enrichment, you know, have my family known about the four H program I grew up in a single parent household and that the traditional four H model of, you know, attending club meetings and , um, having an attendance requirement and having, you know, participating in specific projects that wouldn't have fit my family at that time. Um, because of, you know , all of the responsibilities on parent hat and not the benefit of school enrichment programs is it really provides an opportunity to share the benefits of four H with a much wider, larger audience. I completely agree. I think

Speaker 4:

Fantastic job of helping me today to , um , explain what is 48 . So I appreciate you, and I appreciate your time on the podcast. Yes . Thank you , Jessica. All right. So now we have , uh, Ms . Gerald Butterfield

Speaker 3:

And you have actually been on my podcast before, right? It's been awhile back. Yeah, right when I first , uh , first started it. So , um, before we get started on our topic today, I was gonna see if , uh , you wouldn't mind telling us a little bit about yourself, who you are, what you do, all that kind of stuff. Sure. It's a little background I grew up in Northeastern. New Mexico was actively involved in four H and FFA growing up, came to New Mexico state university to complete my degrees. I ended up with a bachelor's in ag, econ, ag business and hospitality and tourism services. And then continued with my master's in home economics , um, was able to go to work at the state office when I graduated and , um , worked doing some of the similar things that I'm doing now, which is working with the leadership team. Um, although now it's a little bit different. I , um , am very an advocate for agriculture and, and just enjoy doing a lot with kids. Yes . And before, before you came back to , um, cause you kind of come full circle again , um, or a recycle, I guess if we're , um, uh , that's what they say. Um, you were working with , uh, New Mexico ag in the classroom, correct. I actually , um, kind of had an interesting tour on , on my job , I guess you would say once I left the university, I did a couple of other things, ended up working in accounting with the nutrition program, through cooperative extension service for several years where my kids were growing up. And then I had the opportunity , um , to work with New Mexico , um , farm Bureau with the ag and classroom program. And then I ended up back here , um, at the state four H office , uh , doing the job I am now we do a lot of collaborative work with , um, the ag in the classroom stuff, you know , um, we use their curriculum and I think they kind of maybe borrow a little bit from us and it's a really great , uh, team effort to , um , educate you on where their food comes from. So , um, I think it's, it's absolutely perfect that you were , uh , that you've called and full circle , um, on doing that. Um, so we're going to get into kind of our, our hot topic, if you will, of what I've been asking everyone is , um, I'm getting a lot of different perspectives on , um, answering this question because it's probably the most common question I get whenever we get into our enrollment period , um, is what is four eight , um, time and time again, I'll have parents , um, or families that have maybe never, never heard of four H they were in four H growing up and they don't know really what it is. And so , um, I find myself sometimes kind of stumbling on how to explain exactly what, you know, all encompasses four eight . So that's my question for you is what is four eight ? I think that's a good question. And I think it's hard sometimes to describe because it has so many facets and we all may only be involved in different parts of it. So when we go to explain it, we're explaining it from our experience, but maybe not what the base of forage is. So what I like to share is it that it is four H is the youth development program of the extension service it's available to all youth , um, and our state. We're lucky to have a County extension office and County agent in every County in our state to help administer this program. And it is the largest youth development organization in the world. And let me think about it. There's lots of organizations that do things for kids, but is research space and it's based on four concepts of positive youth development. And those are so key to growing productive citizens and their belonging , um, independence, generosity, and mastery. And the neat thing about four eight is we have lots of projects and sometimes we focus on the project , but the projects are a tool we use to help grow our kids. Correct. That was a great , um , explanation. And I , I kind of , I'm going to skip, I'm going to kind of go backwards actually. Now , um, your specialty areas , um , working at the state office is with , um, like our adult volunteers, as well as the , the leadership team. Um, can you tell us a little bit about that? You start with the leadership team. Um , it's working with the , the youth who , um , are able to either be selected or elected to our state four H leadership team. And they come from , um , every County originally , anybody, any senior Frazier can run for this office and it's a wonderful experience to work with them. Um, there , this year's team is very dynamic. They're fun, they're willing to try new things. And of course, as we know this year has been a little more challenging, but , um, working with youth to me is just such a refreshing , um, place to be. And you remember it remind you of , of , of the good things and why we're doing this and to help them. Um, but then they help us keep positive and things like that as well. But they, the team itself , um, helps put on our senior age and , um, then one other activity for novice and juniors leadership of us that are statewide. So they spend time , um , developing the themes and the workshops they're gonna present. And , um, some of the background information in , in the sessions for each of the , the VM that we host, but they take a big role in that and in my job as well, the UN agents that serve advisors to help just guide them and then instruct them, they go along, but we try to let them learn and plan and just give guidance as they go. The other piece is the adult volunteer , um, and working with that piece because for H uh , I mentioned earlier, we have an agent in every County, and sometimes we have a specific agent that works with four H , but not necessarily, they may have other responsibilities as well, but the reason four H can grow is because of our adult volunteers. And they're the hand that helps reach out and expand. Our programs are so many others. And one of the neat things talked about making full circle that I got to experience is going from the state office. Although I didn't work in the volunteer position the first time around is going and raising my kids and being involved in four H from the parent perspective and the volunteer perspective. And it's given me a different outlook, but , um , always been so appreciative of for youth leaders in their time and their commitment to the youth , because that's what it's about is them being committed to help you learn and grow, right. They really are the backbone of , um , of the whole program without, without the volunteers. We definitely would not be able to, to accomplish very much transitioning a little bit now. Um, you know, we, we've kind of got an idea of, of what four H is, but, you know, w what are they exactly learning? What are they getting out of it? What , what kind of skills are they going to be able to take away from being in four H Oh , there's such a variety of skills and there's , um, uh , targeting life skills, graphic that was put together. And they , they took all the things that kids are learning, and then they correlate it to the hand part hasn't helped, but some of them are, you know, we talked about belonging, they're learning, they're learning, caring for others, all the community service that we do. They're learning how to manage their time and be in responsible. They're learning to be resilient projects. Don't always go as they're supposed to. And sometimes it's hard. And so they'd learn how to get up and keep moving forward. They're learning , um, critical thinking, how do you solve problems, how to make decisions? Um , some of our judging contests we talk a lot about is really helping them to look at what is their decision and what are they basing those decisions on. It's a skill that can translate to anything. Um , stress management, you know, healthy living is a big piece , uh, character and teamwork. That competence is one. You hear a lot in leadership among the kids, although there's a whole bunch more, those are just a few. And , um, just in case we're we have somebody listening, who's an adult, and they're thinking, gosh, this sounds like a really good program. You know, I , I would, I'm thinking that I would like to get involved. What do you think that volunteers gain from, from being involved in the forage program? I think there's , there's lots of different , um, things that , that volunteers gain one, you know, if you're a parent, you become a volunteer is doing things with your children, which is, was huge for me being there, being a part of it. Um, but being a caring adult is one having a caring adult. That's not a parent. Um, it's also very beneficial for children to have that other person. And I know the parents, I always liked to surround my kids with, with people, other adults that , um , would support them because they don't always listen to their parents. So that's always a benefit there. The other thing too, is just, I mean, you have leaders that learn new skills and you may take on a project that you know , nothing about. And so you may actually learn a whole new skillset while you're teaching kids and helping them with that project as well . Um, and just knowing that you're helping children to gain these, these characteristics, these skills we just talked about from the competence , from the teamwork, the belonging, so many things that, that make age , um, they treat the whole person. It's not just one piece of a child. We're looking at all these skills, they affect every part and you can be a very you're . The leaders are a very, very important part to make you successful. I can say from personal experience, you know, being an agent , I don't, you know, I don't know everything about every single project, but , uh , every now and then I'll kind of dive into a project that, you know , I really don't know too much about, or I get involved in something. And man, I , I learned so much , um, while while doing it that , um, I , I keep thinking, gosh, why didn't I do this sooner? You know, it , it's very beneficial and also makes you feel good, makes you feel good to be able to get back, give back and , um, you know, be involved with the future generations. Yeah . I think one of the things in four H that, because kids are growing and developing, it's not like we're not like math, where you present a skill, you teach the skill, they practice the skill, you test on the skill . Um, he gets project for a little like that, but they usually are growing on each other, but it's the value of that confidence. So those other life skills we talked about that you really don't see right away, that it's a very slow growth sometimes. And even as adults, we can look back and go, wow, that really helped me forage was this and that . Um, sometimes we don't collect that data very well, but there was a study done by Tufts university that just had some neat facts I thought I would share. And one was , um, the youth in boys are four times more likely to give back to their communities because community service is a huge part of what we do. It's a part of your club work every year, we have a community service project, and this is really gearing our kids to think beyond themselves than two times more likely to make healthier choices, which is we see the things that our kids are facing these days, that aren't healthy, that to know that for each helps them make better choices for themselves is , is a neat thing to be able to actually put into words, Nancy. Yes, I completely agree. Um, well, I'd like to thank you for being on my podcast and helping me explain , uh, what is four H I think you gave a really good insight. You're welcome to speak with Tom Dean. He is Southwest district director and also my claw . So welcome to my podcast, Mr. Dean,

Speaker 5:

Thank you, Jessica, for having me today.

Speaker 3:

No problem. So before we get started on kind of talking about our topic that , uh, we're focusing on today , uh, I'd like to hear a little bit about your background. Let's give the listeners , um, you know , let them know you a little bit better, your background education and all those types of things. Okay .

Speaker 5:

Like you mentioned that , um, I'm the Southwest district department head , uh , with, for , or the cooperative extension service, which is , uh , the mother program that houses the four H program. And I oversee nine counties in the Southwest part of New Mexico , uh, doing more of the administrative personnel role for the cooperative extension service. Um, I got a master's degree and, and , uh, rain science, ruminant nutrition, and spin a little bit of time with , uh, the Texas cooperative extension service or Texas AgriLife is what they call themselves . Um , and at that time, and so , uh, got a little bit of experience 19 years of experience within the cooperative extension service and a four H program is definitely near and dear to my heart.

Speaker 3:

And I bet it changed a lot in the span of those years, but probably not as much as it has changed recently.

Speaker 5:

Well, the good thing for us is four H uh, the actual program for four eight had opportunities to provide more programs, but the overall aspect and you use development component of it really hasn't changed much because , um, the four H slogan has learned by doing and , and all the youth development stuff that we do has a hands-on component. So I think that delivery method and the way it originally started is still true today. If , if we're doing that true , hands-on learn by doing model.

Speaker 3:

I couldn't agree more that , uh, the basis is still there. Um, you know, you're still free to, to learn on your own at home. You may not be able to attend a meeting or something, but , um, yeah, you can still do for H um, you know, at home and, and really kind of hone in on independent learning. I want to transition just a little bit. I want to go back to talking how you are , uh, an MSU alumni. How did an MSU , um, and attending an MSU really prepare you for , uh , the career field that you're in?

Speaker 5:

Well, so in terms of the career field and kind of how I ended up in this particular deal, I started my college education , um, had some looked at some different options with the access program at New Mexico state university. But I ended up in the ring science animal science department, because my years in the four H program, I was pretty heavily involved in the livestock programs. And then range management , uh, was an area that I did quite a bit of work in. And my County agent at the time helped , uh , prepare a group of us in a team to do the range plan ID and range management contest. And fortunately for me, with, with the group that we had, we were able to win state contest and go on to the nationals. And then a couple years later, we were able to do it and the FFA program and go to national contest. So it was kind of ingrained in me the range management side. And so that kind of led me in that direction. Um, but with all that I did within the four H program growing up, the extension service was just , uh, near and dear to my heart. And , uh, when I graduated with a bachelor's degree, I actually had an opportunity to do an interim position and Catherine County and , uh, get, get my feet wet if you will, just a little bit, and , uh, took advantage of that opportunity and then ended up going back and getting a master's and , uh, doing a ruminant nutrition study up in , at the Corona ranch. And , um, all of that research based information really helped me to , uh, flourish as a County agent and the fact that our jobs are to take the research and disseminate that out to the clientele and New Mexico . So , uh , the youth development component comes from my experience with 48 and then my , uh, range in animal science degree helps me with , uh, the scientific side and disseminating research.

Speaker 3:

I already have learned something. I had no idea that you , um, you spend a little bit of time in my old , uh, my old stomping grounds there Catron County May have been locked up . We'll have to compare notes after this. So hot topic is as an agent, and I'm sure you get this as well. A lot of times we're, we're approached by families that maybe they have no idea what four H is when it grows up in the program. Never heard of it. And that's the question. That's the first thing they ask is what is four H and in an attempt to try to explain what is four H um, I've decided that I'm going to ask a lot of different people from a lot of different angles. What is four H so , um , I'm interested to see , uh, what's your what's your answer is to that.

Speaker 5:

Eight is a youth organization that's across the nation and even international , uh , but in New Mexico, it reaches are you from five to 19, and it's , um , a program that provides opportunities for youth development , uh , and learning, and a learn by doing approach. And there's over 200 different projects, and there's so many different avenues for four eight, that it's hard to explain them all in , in one setting. So , um, the easy answer for what is for a youth organization that is a learned by doing hands-on learning approach , um, it really does develop , um, mastery, belonging and leadership skills

Speaker 3:

When kids are enrolled in the four H uh , what are some of those things that , uh, they're , they're learning? What are, what are they saying that they are gaining from the program? What kind of impact is four H having on , um , on them? Wow ,

Speaker 5:

I'm going to start to answer that question a little bit like this, that I have a saying for those folks that want to do four H four H is different for every individual hands down. Um, there's so much diversity and different programs and areas that they can be involved with that I don't think any one person has the same experience and you get out of four H what you put into it. So somebody that just comes in and they don't know about the four H program, and they don't immerse themselves in, in , uh , the projects and the club work. They probably don't get as much out of it because those kids that take advantage of all the opportunities and , um, you know, fortunately for me growing up and , uh, I was able to take advantage of a lot of opportunities. So really what did kids get out of the four H program and all the different program areas? Uh , it's kind of independent learning, but I don't know if that answers the question enough, or you want me to go into more detail.

Speaker 3:

I think that, that answers it. Um, and, and I can, I , I agree with you on , uh , you know, you get what you put in and , and really that that's a life lesson in itself. You know, when you go to work, you're going to get what you put in. If you do the bare minimum, you're going to be , um , evaluated as, as such someone who only does the bare. So I think that there's a real life lessons , even in just that, you know, offers a lot of different type of camps and activities, you know, there's ranch, camp, shooting, sports, all these types of things. If you could name, you know , like your top favorites or top two favorite , um , type of programs that New Mexico four H offers, what would they be? And I can only name, Oh , you can name as many as you want. I was just trying to make it , um , a little bit easier.

Speaker 5:

Gotcha. I think then in terms of trying to , uh , name off some opportunities that , uh , youth have within the program , um, I'm going to start with something , um, New Mexico for eight today at the round house is something that I find is a very valuable program that we do , uh, here in New Mexico with, and most , uh , four H programs do this, but for youth to be able to learn about , uh, the citizenship project and their , their governments, I think is a pretty neat item , uh, that we offer within the four H program, because we truly do build the leaders of tomorrow. And , uh, through that program, we actually help give them insight and they get to visit with actual legislators and community minded people that hopefully they would like to emulate one day and become our future leaders. So I'm going to put that one at the top of the list there , all of our leadership programs, I think is very, very important, and we've got our senior leadership retreat and our youth getaway programs. And those two are very similar, but they're based on age though , where seniors go to senior leadership retreat in our junior and novice numbers go to youth getaway, but that actually provides a leadership training that helps really bring our youth out and give them the opportunity , uh, to practice that public speaking , uh, those engagement type, critical thinking skills that they will probably need in the future. So I'm pretty high on our leadership programs , uh , with that, that type of thing in mind. And , um, it gives them a chance to kind of master some of those programs. Now, one more that I'll talk about real quick is the New Mexico youth ranch management camp, which you don't have to be a member of the four H program. But , um, it is a youth development camp that we have in New Mexico that basically helps. Um , well, our whole goal for that program is to , uh, the youth of today to be a future agriculturalist later in their years. So with our aging population of agriculture, we need people to be able to replace them. So we train, train youth and give them career opportunities through our programs as well. Yes .

Speaker 3:

Yes. I completely agree. So one last kind of surprise question for you , um, with, with everything that's gone on in the past year with COVID-19 and , um, how do you feel that the, you know, agents here in the state have responded to that by basically turning what used to be our in-person programming that we never really, we never had to really spin and make it virtual. How do you think that that's gone for us agents in the, in the state of New Mexico and how do you think it's going?

Speaker 5:

Well, I kind of dodged the COVID part of the first answers when you talked about the four H program and these are doing because because the four H program and what we do in New Mexico is so hands-on our kids or the youth that are in our four H program join four H for the hands-on learning experience. And I think the social aspect is such a big deal with what four H offers to develop those skills. That it's very, very important for us as a whole, the whole extension system that having that face to face and interaction really helps give kids that sense of belonging and , and mastering and developing those skills. So COVID has kind of kicked us in the shins a little bit when it comes to our ability to work with kids. And that's been a real negative for us now, the positive that's come out of that. And your question more specifically is what have agents been able to do to respond to this? And I'm going to highlight one thing for you. And our four H program is not all about cows and plows and the agriculture side of it, but in this COVID timeframe with the pandemic, that has been a highlight for most of our four H programming in the fact that the youth that deal with the livestock projects and are heavily involved in agriculture have had something to do the entire time during the pandemic. Um , and that's a Testament to keeping kids with their mental stability , uh , keeping them engaged. Um , they don't have the depression issues that we might see in some others that have been when you use the terms, kind of held more captive and not being able to go to school and, and visit with other youth. So I think our four H youth in our livestock projects have been able to keep engaged , uh, during all of this, and that's been a highlight. And so we can equate that back to companion animals and what that does for the mental stability and , and that whole program. I think our livestock programs have been able to provide that to our youth during this time.

Speaker 3:

I had never really put that connection together about , um, you know, the, the companion animal , um, aspect. And you're absolutely correct.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. The other thing that I want to highlight , um, outside of the livestock projects, just , uh , you know, just like yourself working on this podcast , um, the agents in New Mexico and even across the nation have had to pivot and figure out how to provide programs virtually. And so while we see the attendance from our youth, they don't really like getting on the zoom meetings and having four H club meetings that way. Uh , but there have been some innovative programs that have been initiated across the state to try to engage the youth in that that realm , uh , outside of the livestock can keep, keep contests kind of flowing and provide them with some kind of opportunity. And while it's harder to be able to market those programs and get, get kids involved , uh, we still had some pretty good success in moving things along. So , um, I would like to command all the agents in New Mexico for trying to keep, keep youth , uh , engaged in , keeps them youth development programs kind of moving during this time.

Speaker 3:

Yes, I agree. I, I commend all of , uh, all of the other agents around the state and around the nation for what they're doing and the impact that they're making. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us today, or

Speaker 5:

I guess one of the last things is, you know, our four H program gives kids the sense of mastery, that leadership and that sense of belonging. And I think the youth development program that we coordinate is, is vital to the success of, of our nation, even in regards to the supply and educated folks that , uh , have skills outside of the classroom that really give them the advantage and help, help them to be successful as they move through their careers and,

Speaker 4:

And for the rest of her life. I'm glad that you added that in. I'd like to thank you for being on the podcast and sharing your views today and what you think that four H is. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Jessica , for having me now on my podcast,

Speaker 3:

I'm actually interviewing , um , someone very influential in my life. Um, um, this is Tracy Drummond and he is the , um, four H agent in Katherine County. So before we get started , um, I was going to have you , uh, go ahead and introduce yourself and talk about your background and your job, title, your education, all those things.

Speaker 6:

Hi , my name is Tracy Drummon , as you said on the capturing County, actually capturing County agents. So I do everything. I'm the only agent in the County. Uh, I have a bachelor's degree in animal science from Texas a and M university and a master's in agriculture economics from New Mexico state university.

Speaker 3:

Nice. And you actually grew up , um , here in this there grant County area, huh?

Speaker 6:

Yes. Uh, graduated from quiff high school.

Speaker 3:

I was going to ask you, cause I was kind of thinking about the fact that you were , uh , you were my agent when I was growing up. Um, have you had any other four H members that have turned out to be extension agents?

Speaker 6:

Yes, I guess her Wayne Shockey and Eddy County was a senior my first year in extension. So , uh, did a little bit with him and did quite a bit with his dad and his little brother. So I was pretty familiar with him and his family. And then of course yourself and then , uh, uh, Emily Bruton County was [inaudible] as well.

Speaker 3:

Oh, I didn't know that. All right . So , um, we're gonna get down to our topic for the day. Um, and this is a question I'm sure you've been asked a million times and you're probably better at answering it then than some of us, but , um, you know, one of the biggest questions they get asked is what is four H um , what are the kids do or they learn? So I'm kind of asking everybody else, you know, getting a lot of different perspectives from people on what is four H so I would like to hear , um, you know, what is four H

Speaker 6:

Well, the technical side of it, four H is a cooperative program between , uh, USDA , uh, New Mexico state university. And then obviously your local County to provide , uh, educational programming for youth ages five to 19 , uh, in a variety of areas , uh , broad categories, leadership , uh, citizenship , uh, ag and natural resources , uh, a lot of your STEM type technology type opportunities as well.

Speaker 3:

What do you think the most influential , uh , projects that kids can take in four H

Speaker 6:

Oh , there's , there's just so many projects, mom kind of near and dear to animal projects, because I think it , uh, it gives the person a different perspective when they're responsible for taking care of another living thing and that , you know , their sole risk solely responsible for how that, that thing performs and how it , uh, you know , how successful they are in those programs. Uh , now don't get me wrong. There were family programs that, that are more successful when the families involved. Um , but quite honestly, one of the most useful aspects I think of the four X program is the traditional club setting where kids learn parliamentary procedure. They learn to have valid, good discussion with pull . Maybe they'd have a different idea or background than they do , uh , those types of things. And I think as far as , uh , life skills go that traditional club setting with, with people in different backgrounds and different interests, having to come together to make decisions and plan activities and so forth is, is one of the most valuable aspects of the forage program.

Speaker 7:

I would totally agree. And I , I did the , uh, the livestock projects in four H and I have to say, I think they probably prepared me the most , um, in terms of being an agent myself , um, being able to be in those projects. I learned a lot over the years. How many clubs do you guys have in Katherine County?

Speaker 6:

We basically have a club at each community and, and we've, we've had some combined and some drop out, but I believe we're running right at seven clubs. Oh , that's pretty good. Some of them are fairly small. Some of them are , are bigger . Uh ,

Speaker 7:

You're also , um, you know, a parent, your kids were in four H and, and what did you see in them as they went through the program?

Speaker 6:

I think it was a valuable experience for them. Uh , my kids would maybe be a little different than some is, is they were actually homeschooled. We chose to homeschool them. And my wife chose to that was basically her job was to test to make sure that they were educated and we use the four H program. And then obviously my work for the four H program as, as an opportunity for them to meet other youth like-minded youth and , and develop those leadership opportunities. And both of my kids have actually graduated from college with agriculture degrees and , and are successful in their chosen career field now. And , um, you know, I attribute a lot of that to , uh, the lessons and things they learned in four H.

Speaker 7:

Yeah. Yeah. I would totally agree with that. And , um, the parents that you have in your program , um, what are they seeing in their kids? What kind of skills are they gaining from , from the program?

Speaker 6:

Well, we have a significant number of kids that are in our forage programs, obviously for animal projects and the opportunity to just sell those animals and so forth. But we also have a significant group of kids that are, that are in four H four for social interaction opportunities, their parents like the fact that they can get together with kids and families that are like-minded and they can, you know, they have some control over those social settings that they, they don't see in, you know , the general public , uh , you know, they, the opportunity, the opportunity for leadership activities in Katherine County has minimal. When , you know, we have no little league, we have no , uh, none of your traditional youth type activities that would happen in a larger town. And so , uh , four H is an opportunity for, for those kids to get out and develop those skills. And quite honestly, to develop those skills outside of your traditional classroom , um, you know, where, where they chosen to be there and to be involved in it , you know, it's not as , uh , dictorial type of setting is your traditional school system will be

Speaker 7:

Let's go ahead. And let's talk a little bit about , um, some of the other things that four H can offer such as the contest. Um, one of my favorites, and I know it's one of yours is the livestock judging contest. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Speaker 6:

I think that's one of the most unique parts of the fourth program is, is our contest that we have a contest reflect the project areas. You know, if you want to roll public speaking, you can compete in public speaking and Knology and so forth. But as you mentioned, livestock judging was one of my favorites. I think if there's a contest area that we can use to develop young people's confidence, speaking ability, decision-making skills, all those can be done with the livestock judging contest. And , and quite honestly, I, I competed in it when I was a four acre . Um , my kids had been competitive in livestock judging . Uh , both of my kids actually went to college on judging scholarships and basically had two years of school , um, you know, paid for that way. So those are some other opportunities that can , uh , be had through the forage program.

Speaker 7:

What about any of the other contests , um, that are available? What other kinds of contracts ,

Speaker 6:

Like I said , there's contests that reflect , uh , every type of personality. Uh, I mean, obviously, you know, so everybody's pulling not going to bank livestock judging is important nurse coolers . I do , uh , but there's other contests from bull type contests where , uh, you compete as a team and you're ask questions and you buzz in and answer those kind of like a game show format of the entomology contest, for example, is insect identification. Uh , there , you know, other contests , uh, favorite foods, for example , uh, you learn how to make a quick dishes and you prepare them and you're quizzed on your knowledge about the nutritional value of that dish, as well as , uh , food safety and aspects like that. So again, there's contests that almost every project area and again, almost every type of personality. So there's an opportunity for everyone

Speaker 7:

Also part of this , the, the four H program that , um, I don't think anybody's really touched on. So I'm going to give you an opportunity to talk about , um , is also the shooting sports program. Um, what can you tell us about that

Speaker 6:

Shooting sports program? Uh, again, is , is fairly unique to four H the only other youth program that I'm aware of is boy Scouts does have some aspect of shooting sports within it. Uh , but again, there's no other form to compete , uh , uh, particularly in the state of New Mexico that I'm aware of , uh, you know, as a young person , uh, you know, other than the four H competitive side, and again, you can compete at your County level, move on to the district level for a novice and junior members. And then our senior members compete at the state level in a variety of disciplines, you know, shotgun contests, ski trap, sporting, clays, all those , uh , you know, your traditional three present position, rifle, air rifle , um, you know, all those different contexts , including muzzleloading , uh, you know, that senior four can compete at. And there's also national contest associated with most of those as well. So not only can you compete at the state level, but , uh , you can go on and compete nationally as well.

Speaker 7:

Yeah , it's tonight . I think the contest really , um, really drive home the point of , uh, what the projects are also designed to teach. Um, it just exemplifies those skills , um, in a , in a competitive manner , um, you know, increasing your distance .

Speaker 6:

Is there an outreach of what you learned in those projects and allow you to apply them , uh, you know, in a, in a situation where, you know, you have to think about what you learned, you have to apply it , uh, again, back to livestock judging, you have to defend that with a rural reasons. Uh, so, you know, your decision-making skills, your thinking on your feet , uh, you know, they're no different than a job interview or something like that. And , uh, we S we think back on that in , in competing in those contests, you know, starting at a young age, you know, when you go into that first job interview, you know, you know, it's not like it's something new, you've, you've had that pressure on you. You've been through situations like that, and you can rely on that, you know, familiarness and things like that with those activities. And again, that gives you confidence and strength to be successful at anything you do in life. Again, back to life skills. That's what , that's what the forage program is basically teaching life skills. We just do it in a lot of ways. Um, one of the big buzz words right now is self-esteem forage program has always , uh, included self esteem in any, any aspect of those projects, the confidence that young people get by , uh , taking on a project, learning about that project , uh, completing the activities within that project, and then maybe going and competing , uh , in activities related to that project, just, you know, strengthens their confidence in their selves and their abilities and their decision-making .

Speaker 7:

Yes. And I have to say a lot of those skills are very, very needed in our society. And I have to say that those skills , um, you know, that I gained by being in 42 and in livestock judging, and some others , um, really helped , uh, help , like you said, helped me think on my feet. And , um, another great thing that , um, it taught me was , um, and I, and I also encourage you, if you're interested in livestock, there's no better way to learn what a good one looks like than to judge them and see them compared to others, and be able to evaluate and see the things that are good and see the things that are maybe not so ideal on these animals. So that way, when they go to choose their show animals, they already had a , they kind of have a , an idea of what what's , they're looking for and, and how these animals are pieced together so that they can pick the optimal animal for them, and that fits into their budget,

Speaker 6:

For sure. And then not only that, but , but when they compete with that animal and a judge , judge critiques that animal, they understand, you know , those aspects that the judge is talking about that we're superior, or, or maybe not as good as somebody else's and , and, you know, they could , you know, if they're open-minded and they read that and understand what they say and look at their animal, you know , they can see those differences. And , um, you know, again, that's, that's , uh , that's just a positive side of it, but , but , you know , even , uh , you know, even people that never show an animal , um , there's so many positive aspects related to, to that contest environment that are going to be positive life skills for them , um, you know, throughout their life.

Speaker 7:

That pretty much answers all my questions. Did you have anything else that you'd like to add or say

Speaker 6:

No, just that , uh, the four H program is, is , uh, is a very valuable program and it provides a lot of opportunities for youth , uh, and , and, and, and a diverse group of youth. I mean, again, like I said, the animal programs are near and dear to my heart, but there's so many other things that you can do in four H that , um, that you can develop young people with and that they , um, you know, they can use to, to develop skills that are going to be useful for afterlife . I mean, the four H model is to learn by doing. And so a lot of things are, you know, hands-on , and, and based on , uh, you know, completing activities and, you know, you have a Kanji object or something along those lines, you know, whether it be a garment that you've made in a sewing project or, or biscuits in a baking project that you have, you know, when you're done with that.

Speaker 7:

Yeah. There's a lot of, a lot of variety in terms of things ,

Speaker 4:

Um, based on your interests . I think you've done an excellent job of explaining what is , so I think we so much for being on my podcast.

Speaker 1:

Thanks everyone for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, don't forget to hit the subscribe button on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Google play, or whatever app you're using to listen to this podcast. Well , more information you can visit us at our website, Brent, extension dot N M S u.edu. Follow us on Facebook at NSU grant County, C E S [email protected] , or give us a call (575) 388-1559. New Mexico state university is an equal opportunity. Affirmative action, employer and educator, and MSU, and the U S department of agriculture cooperating . Did you enjoy this podcast? Did you learn something? Did you gain knowledge that you can use, please feel free to reach out to me and let me know. I'm always looking for feedback on what I can do better or topics that I can discuss. So please give me an [email protected]