UC ANR 4-H builds bridges with Mexico by helping launch a 4-H Club in Mexicali

The Issue

Baja California, Mexico, and California, U.S.A. share a 156-mile long border which includes cities like Tijuana and Mexicali. Even when both states are geographically close, the disparities between them are incredibly large in terms of population, income, and education. For example, in Ejido Sinaloa, in Mexicali only 37% of the population is employed, the average monthly income per household is $450, and the average level of education is 7th grade. California and Baja California also share an agricultural legacy that has been challenged in recent years by issues such as drought and climate change, which do not recognize borders. Mexico and the US require leaders, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, and professionals with an outstanding education to solve these issues. For more than 100 years the 4-H youth development program (4-H) in the U.S. has facilitated the development of leaders in part by increasing the number of youth that gives back to the community, make healthy decisions, and improve their grades at school.

What Has ANR Done?

Convinced of the viability and benefits that 4-H could bring to Mexico, Dr. Lupita Fábregas, and Claudia P. Diaz Carrasco approached Baja California’s Secretaria de Fomento Agropecuario (SEFOA) with the goal of establishing the first 4-H Club in Mexicali. For more than six months UC ANR academics and SEFOA’s staff conducted a community assessment to identify local needs and set program goals. Once the goals were established, UC academics provided youth development with expertise, training, and resources, as well as technical assistance and support that allowed SEFOA’s staff to work independently to recruit youth and adults for the 4-H program.

On January 2017, UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston traveled to Mexico to sign an agreement of cooperation with SEFOA, to increase the academic, scientific, technological, and cultural relations between SEFOA-BCM and UC ANR in California. This effort is part of UC President Napolitano’s Mexico Initiative to create partnerships between the UC and institutions in Mexico. During her visit, Glenda witnessed the opening of the first 4-H in Baja California, Mexico. The new 4-Hers prepared the soil for planting cabbage, pepper and flower seeds as they participated in a project called "De donde vienen los alimentos" (Where the food comes from).

The Payoff

First 4-H club is successfully launched and plans to expand

By the summer of 2017, 4-H Mexicali will graduate its first 25 club participants, and it is projected to triplicate its reach by the end of the year. The goal is to serve all the kids in the Elementary, Middle, and High School in the Ejido Sinaloa and start offering the program to other Ejidos in Mexicali, as well as other cities in the State of Baja California. To support the efforts Manual Valladolid Seamanduras, Secretary of SEFOA employed a part-time coordinator for the 4-H club, Mrs. Michelle Dojaquez. Additionally, a member of the Baja California state legislature, María Trinidad Vaca Chacó committed to supporting the club’s development. This project is an example of collaboration between SEFOA and UC ANR and the beginning of a 4-H program which will engage youth in educational and leadership's activities that will nurture Baja California’s next generation of leaders.


Supporting Unit: Youth, Families, and Communities Statewide Program

Maria G. Fabregas, Lfabregas@ucanr.edu, 4-H Youth Development Advisor, and Assistant Director for 4-H Diversity & Expansion
Claudia P. Diaz Carrasco, Cpdiaz@ucanr.edu, 4-H Youth Development Advisor, UCCE Advisor Riverside & San Bernardino