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Jennah McKinley

Jennah McKinley

CARLSBAD — New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service Office in Eddy County has a new home economist, a native of Carlsbad, who is eager to get people of all ages excited about various programs Extension has to offer.

Jennah McKinley joins a staff of three who provide extension services to the county through 4-H youth programs, nutrition education programs, and agriculture expertise. Her main focus for adults in the county will include diabetes awareness, nutrition, and life skills.

McKinley explained the population of Eddy County is approximately 54,000 with 12.8 percent of the population below poverty (2012 U.S. Bureau of the Census). The two largest age groups of the population below poverty level are the youth groups under 5 years old (38.3 percent) and children 5-17 years of age (28.1 percent). The largest ethnic groups are Hispanic (44.7 percent) and white (51.5 percent). The largest family type is the husband-wife householder with children under the age of 18 (50.3 percent).

Low income levels often indicate low educational achievements.

The situation in Eddy County is such that 32 percent of all persons 25 years of age and older have obtained less than a high school level of education.

7.4 percent have attained less than a ninth-grade level of education. These low income and low educational groups can improve their health through basic nutrition, food safety, food preparation, and food resource management education.

Eddy County youth have the potential to be influenced by negative indicators such as crime, poverty, teen birth rate, and single-parent families.

Basic life skills are imperative in the development of knowledgeable and productive citizens for the future of Eddy County.

Home economics subject matter projects include consumerism, nutrition, personal development, and creative arts, providing stepping stones in the development process. McKinley says she is excited to get started on developing various workshops to educate the county on various topics it has needed for a long time. Workshops will be advertised in the local newspapers, and Eddy County Extension also has a new Facebook page that will display upcoming events and workshops.

Besides coordinating nutrition and family consumer science programs in the county, McKinley will work with 4-H agent Allison Leimer to develop youth programs.

“I really enjoy working with kids,” McKinley said. “It’s an honor to watch them develop life skills as they grow into young adults.”

McKinley has three years of experience working as a teacher in the Carlsbad Municipal School District. She says the home economist position will enable her to extend her expertise to people of all ages. She said her goals for Eddy County programs include developing the 4-H home economics program by teaching nutrition, cooking, and other life skills workshops, and having youth participate in various home economics contests.

She said she would like to have the 4-H youth work with adults in the Carlsbad and Artesia homemakers clubs in hopes of increasing membership in those groups.

McKinley earned a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences Education and a Master of Arts in Education from NMSU in 2011 and 2015. While in college, she served as president of New Mexico State University’s Association of Family and Consumer Sciences for three terms, as well as vice president of the New Mexico Association of Family and Consumer Sciences for one term. She has acquired several distinguishing awards, including New Mexico Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Student of the Year and New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Outstanding Student Award for the Class of 2011.

She encourages county residents to come visit with her at 1304 W. Stevens in Carlsbad and subscribe to Eddy County Ag news at nmsueddyag.blogspot.com/EddyCountyExtensionService.