Bringing together traditional teachings and Extension programs
The mission of the New Mexico Tribal Extension Program is to develop and deliver community-based education programs that will revitalize agriculture, implement culturally appropriate youth leadership programs and strengthen the bonds between individuals, families and communities. Tribal Extension agents provide educational programs based on the needs of the local communities. Advisory boards made up of community members provide input and support for local programming.
Education programs are designed to fortify and revitalize agricultural and natural resource practices, develop 4-H youth leadership opportunities and strengthen families through instruction in nutrition, health, parenting, money management and other family resources.
Tribal cultures and language are incorporated in presentations whether designed for adults or young people. One example is a class on cake decorating which introduces youth to the Navajo words for various cooking utensils. The Kitchen Creations program teaches techniques to prepare and serve traditional foods in a healthy way, thereby helping to address the problem of diabetes, a prevalent health condition. Young people enjoy hearing about tribal traditions during 4-H project meetings and other group presentations. Similarly, the Tribal Extension Program on horses instructs participants on how the animals tie into the Navajo culture.
The Tribal Extension Program includes four program areas: Agriculture and Natural Resource Management; Youth Education; Community Resource, Economic, and Leadership Development; and Strengthening Families through Education in Health, Nutrition, and Family Resource Management. A major goal of the Tribal Extension Program is to increase the number of Native American people completing college degrees in New Mexico.
The eastern portion of the Navajo Nation encompasses 6,275 square miles of northwestern New Mexico. In the tradition of the Cooperative Extension Service to provide educational programming to people living in the rural and remote areas of the United States, NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service has expanded its Tribal Extension Program in the Navajo Nation. In 2008, with state legislative appropriations, the Tribal Extension Program opened two new offices in Shiprock and Crownpoint helping to reach isolated communities in the Navajo Nation.