Ixchel Valentino showing off some of her creations from the 4-H Development Conference that she attended at New Mexico State University. Her favorite item was a "Harry Potter" themed robot.

New Mexico State University hosted its annual summer Cooperative Extension Youth Development 4-H Conference from July 8-11. Socorro’s own Ixchel Valentino, 14, attend the four day event. The theme was “Be the Leader, Be the Light”.

A multi-purpose 4-H get together that includes youth rodeo enthusiasts all the way to robotics experts, Valentino came home with several arts and crafts projects including crochet hats for her siblings, a canvas print of Hogwarts from her favorite book series “Harry Potter”, an origami collection of flowers, a 4-H inspired decorative pillow and a handmade paper machete New Mexican themed piñata.

“Once I got there I didn’t know when to stop,” she said. “I made as many different pieces possible. When I can make crafts for my siblings or about my favorite book series (Potter) then I’m very happy to have the chance to be creative. I like how much 4-H supports our ability to do these unique activities.”

The previous year Socorro did not have a representative at the statewide conference as only seniors in the 4-H program are allowed to attend. Different classes and friendly judged competitions lasted one to two hours with students housed in the dorms at the university.

Ixchel’s mother Gwen Valentino was very pleased with her daughter attending the conference.

“It was positive for her to get out of the house,” she said. “Being homeschooled we always like to get the kids out there and expand their horizons. Hopefully kids seeing 4-H as a program and not having to be living with farm animals for example can be eligible for these great events. Getting people educated of how diverse the program can be is very important. The diversity in childhood development has been amazing to see.”

Socorro County Program Director John Allen released a statement about having a local teen attending the annual conference;

“This is the premier event for the seniors. Youth showed a mastery of skills by competing in judged events as well as public speaking, demonstration and so much more. The 4-H group was also able to campaign and is elected to the state officer team during the event. Lifelong friendships are formed and cultivated every year.”

After returning home, Ixchel Valentino took away a desire to encourage other 4-H members to become involved in programs such as the NMSU event.

“I really hope that more people are inspired to come to the conference next year,” she said. “We really learn so much as a group and I hope more kids are inspired to try out this program. There was this motivational speaker (Matt Rush) who talked about helping others at one point that really made sense to me. The experience is something that I will never forget.”