Youth have several different ways they can fill their time outside of the classroom. The way youth utilize this time can be crucial in developing different habits and lifestyles.

Sierra Cain

Valencia County has a population of 76,688 individuals, 23.3 percent are between the ages of 5-18 years old (U.S. Census, 2019).

Of our adult population, 84.5 percent of adults have a high school diploma with 18.5 percent obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher.

A need for a strong leadership program exists to encourage youth to develop skills to achieve their life goals. 4-H is the largest youth serving organization in the world and focuses on positive youth development (PYD).

4-H provides PYD through programs and activities through clubs, school enrichment and special interest projects. These activities focus on what is referred to as the BIGM — providing a sense of belonging, independence, generosity and mastery.

Through projects and activities provided by 4-H, many have the opportunity to develop these leadership life skills to allow them to achieve their goals through responsibility, self-confidence, communication, goal setting, teamwork and the ability to make sound decisions.

Youth enrolled in a 4-H program have access to projects in a variety of disciplines. This ranges from leadership, agriculture, shooting sports, baking, robotics and leathercraft to name a few.

Project material is provided at little to no cost depending on the project. Youth then complete their project and learn their new skill, or build upon their previous learned skills with the next level project.

Outside of projects, youth are encouraged to participate in leadership opportunities on the club, county and state level. Through these leadership opportunities, officers practice the importance of parliamentary procedure and how to properly hold a meeting.

Officers master their responsibilities of their leadership positions they hold and utilize their team to achieve club, council and state goals. County youth begin to share and explain the importance of serving their program and community.

These members also are planners in community service projects pertinent to their community needs. Members ultimately take on an active role in team building, public speaking, goal setting, career exploration and guide others to achieving the same. These are all key components to life outside of the 4-H program as well as into their adult lives.

Youth who submit leadership applications are reviewed to provide feedback to encourage proper application completion to allow youth to be competitive in their running in all leadership levels. This exposes youth to application processes to encourage interest in leadership positions.

Being familiar with applications is also important in applying for higher level education and job opportunities. 4-H in New Mexico is provided through New Mexico State University, providing direct scholarship opportunities and connection to the university education.

4-H is a program providing lasting impacts and life skills to allow our youth to be successful even after they have graduated from the program. Positive adult and youth relationships are a foundation in providing these leadership opportunities.

Positive youth development in our county is very important in providing our youth with every opportunity for growth and achievement of their goals. 4-H open enrollment is open now until Jan. 31, 2022. Please refer to the contact information below for information on our county 4-H program.


Program Announcements

To register for an upcoming program, call the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service at 505-565-3002.  For more information, visit

  • 4-H Open Enrollment! Open enrollment for Valencia County 4-H is through Jan. 31, 2022. Late enrollments are not accepted. Enrollment information can be found at or contact Sierra Cain at [email protected].
  • 4-H State-wide Food Drive, Clash of the Counties Competition: Our 4-H members received a grant awarded to 26 groups throughout the country through the 4-H Healthy Living Summit. Their mission is to put on a state 4-H food drive competition through New Mexico’s county 4-H programs.

Food items can be dropped off at the extension office. All food will be donated to our county. Contact Sierra Cain at [email protected] for more information.

  • Master Gardener training begins in January. Call the Valencia County Extension Office for more information at 505-565-3002 or email Lynda Garvin at [email protected].

If you are an individual with a disability who requires auxiliary aid or service to participate in a program, please contact the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service Office at 505-565-3002 two weeks in advance of the event.

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Sierra Cain, guest columnist

Sierra Cain is the Valencia County 4-H/Youth Development agent for the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service.