Socorro’s Extension Service continues to grow its program through its advisory committee and 4-H programs.

Emily Burton, county program director as well as Agricultural and 4-H agent for Socorro County told Socorro County Commissioners last week the Socorro County CES Advisory Committee identified needs that the local extension service will focus its programming to meet the needs of its clientele.

Among those needs identified by the committee include agricultural literacy and education, succession planning, small livestock marketing, horticultural training, beef vaccination protocols, youth leadership and mentorship, and youth financial literacy.

4-H enrollment steady
Commissioners were told 4-H re-enrollment closed on January 8 and youth membership is right on track with last year’s numbers. Currently they have 156 youth members and 15 volunteers enrolled. The program will continue to accept new enrollments through April 15.

4-H’s livestock program season has begun with 200 livestock project enrollments. Last month, 37 market steers and breeding heifers were tagged as projects for the Socorro County Fair.

In addition, the county extension service has been conducting and planning future workshops geared toward assisting 4-H members with their livestock projects. On February 27, 17 4-H members attended a Livestock 101 workshop covering the basics of planning and caring for livestock animals. Future workshop topics will focus on animal nutrition and showmanship. Sheep, goat, and swing projects will be tagged in the first weekend in June.

4-H members also have had the opportunity to compete in several state and district judging contests. The Extension Service also conducted several weekly judging contests for youth to learn material and hone their skills in livestock judging, livestock skill-a-thon, horse judging, entomology, wildlife, and horticulture.

Shooting Sports
Youth wanting to learn and participate in 4-H shooting sports program is growing. Currently there are regular practices in shotgun, rifle, and archery. A new discipline with a pistol will also be offered.

Three 4-H volunteers also attended a shooting sports leader certification in February, to re-certify and add certifications in new disciplines. Currently there are 50 4-H youth enrolled in various shooting sports programs.

The Extension Office also is gearing up to hold senior-aged county contests in April to qualify kids to attend the State Shooting Sports Championship. Shooting sports is the fastest growing project area in Socorro County 4-H.

School Enrichment
The local extension service is continuing Agricultural Literacy work to promote understanding and knowledge of agriculture and its impact in the local community. They are working with 77 Saracino Middle School students. Recently, the students have investigated the similarities and differences between ruminant and monogastric digestive systems.

At Cottonwood Valley Charter School, the extensions service recently completed a leadership development program with 50 Middle School students. Students learned the foundations of leadership.

The local extension service also extended its Aquaponics class with 23 Magdalena fourth grade students. Once their micro-Dwarf tomato plants bloom, they will have fruit to finish up the last “Harvest” lesson.

Youth Leadership Development
Our local extension office continues to offer programs in leadership skills for area youth. In a recent 4-H awards ceremony 85 4-H members were recognized for completing their leadership skills projects. Members were awarded excellence in record book and participation. In addition, 25 volunteers were honored for their contributions to 4-H youth.

Eleven members traveled to Las Cruces to attend the New Mexico 4-H Senior Leadership retreat and seven 4-H members represented Socorro County at Santa Fe at 4-H Day at the Round House.