Extension educators focus on delivering programs and resources in rural Nevada
Two new educators from the University of Nevada and Reno Extension are working with their communities to create strong programs and provide needed resources in their areas, northern Nye County and Lander County.
Misha Allen, extension educator for northern Nye County, focuses first on going out to the area, including Tonopah, and meeting people to better assess their needs. Nye County is very large and extensive, which is why Extension will have two extension educators for the county, one in the north (Tonopah) and one in the south (Pahrump). Allen wants to make sure she learns as much as possible about the geography and culture of the area to better serve the people who live there.
After speaking with members of the local community, Allen prioritized creating and establishing more youth programs in the area. Its aim is to develop the 4-H youth development program, especially in Tonopah. While there are active clubs in areas like Round Mountain, she believes 4-H programs need to be more easily accessible to young people, no matter where they are.
“I operate on the belief that I cannot run the programs the community needs in a vacuum,” Allen said. “I have to go out into the community and develop these partnerships and relationships to create programs that put their needs and wants first.”
Allen previously worked in the mental health field, where she provided mental health services and crisis intervention programs to elementary and secondary schools. She also has experience serving large rural areas with youth programs and has been the director of several early childhood education programs. Going forward, Allen wants to focus on providing the community with support for natural resources and economic and workforce development while strengthening the marketing of these programs so that community members know where to find them.
“This position takes everything that I have done personally and professionally and allows me to help others with this experience and knowledge,” Allen said. “It really is the perfect place for me.”
Like Allen, Lois Erquiaga, extension educator for Lander County, focuses primarily on going out to her community to assess her needs. One of her first goals was to do a preliminary needs assessment and start attending community meetings.
Historically, the 4-H Youth Development Program in Lander County has been an important resource for young people, and there are now a few established programs that children can participate in. After hearing from community members that they wanted to see even more programs available, Erquiaga made building these programs a top priority so that they could better serve the interests of more of the youth in the area. region.
“I was delighted to step into this role so that we could develop services that we don’t have now and create something new to meet the needs,” said Erquiaga. “I really appreciate having extension resources available to rural communities, and I want to make sure that others are aware of these resources as well. “
Erquiaga was previously a mental health counselor and worked in hospitals and elderly care facilities as a social worker. She said these experiences taught her how to build strong relationships and locate resources in a small community. Erquiaga has lived in Nevada for over 40 years and in Lander County for over 30 years, so she has a personal understanding of the needs and issues in her community. It also had the opportunity to develop a palliative care program, a drop-in center for young people and transport for care facilities for the elderly.
“Extension is delighted to welcome Misha and Lois,” said Holly Gatzke, Extension North Area Manager. “Their restart of community programming in North Nye and Lander County is already showing impacts in these rural areas.”