A longtime member of the Chaves County Cooperative Extension Office has been named its new director.
Shannon Wooton took the position in February, shortly after the retirement of Sandra Barraza. Barraza had served as head of the office, a division of New Mexico State University, since 2006 and had been with the state’s Cooperative Extension Service for 31 years.
Wooton said she is excited about her new responsibilities and aims to “keep things running as smoothly” as Barraza did.
“I want to continue to spread the word about what the Chaves County Extension Service does and what we offer,” Wooton said in an email. “The mission of the Cooperative Extension Service is to provide practical, research-based knowledge and programs to the people of New Mexico to improve their quality of life.”
Wooton, who has a Bachelor of Science and master’s degree in economics, has been the family and consumer science agent for the office since 2000. She had a prior stint with the office in 1988, working as an interim home economist for a year and a half. In between, she taught school at Sierra and Berrendo middle schools. Prior to her work in Chaves County, she served for about two years with the Curry County Extension Services Office.
Now Wooton oversees the office’s budget, daily operations and its programming and personnel, which at this time includes three extension agents and two administrative assistants. The agricultural extension agent, a role Barraza used to hold, is expected to be filled by the summer, Wooton said, while applications are being accepted for a new ICAN (Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition) educator position that teaches youth about nutrition and healthy food choices.
In addition to her new roles, Wooton will continue to head programming related to diabetic cooking, diabetes prevention, osteoporosis prevention, time and money management, family issues, food safety, and food and nutrition. She also oversees the Hondo River Barn Quilt Trail and leads five adult extension clubs focusing on education, leadership and community service. In addition, she works with the 4-H youth program in areas of leadership, crafts and competitive events involving various topics.
The NMSU associate dean and college director who oversees the Cooperative Extension division provided a long list of Wooton’s responsibilities and achievements, including her receipt of an Outstanding County Cooperative Extension Service Agent Award and the Outstanding Eastern District Agent Award, both in 2017.
“She is extremely innovative in her Extension programming design, always looking for better ways to meet clientele needs and has successfully expanded to new audiences,” Jon Boren said in an email. “Shannon will undoubtedly provide great leadership to the Chaves County Cooperative Extension Service Office.”
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.