Kali Benson has been in her new job as Colorado State University's Elbert County Extension Agent: Agriculture, Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development, and Livestock for a little less than two months. If her job title sounds like a mouthful, try …
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Kali Benson has been in her new job as Colorado State University's Elbert County Extension Agent: Agriculture, Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development, and Livestock for a little less than two months. If her job title sounds like a mouthful, try reading her to-do list.
The Elbert County Extension Office's ag agent position has been vacant since 2009, and Benson will be learning the nuances of her job on the fly. So far, she says she has not had a typical day since she started on Nov. 1. When she has not been in training to learn the details of the latest farm bill, she is spending time with the local conservation districts or escorting 4-H members to swine production seminars in Greeley.
“The way I like to describe extension is that we were the Google, before there was Google,” Benson said. “If you have a question on something about agriculture, you can give us a call or come in to see us, and we can point you in the right direction.”
Initially Benson will center much of her time on the 4-H program, mentoring, coaching and advising 4-H youths with their animal projects as she becomes more familiar her new community.
The 4-H program “is a great leadership and growth opportunity for the kids,” she said, “but it also provides them with positive adult relationships outside of immediate family.”
Born in New Mexico's Sandoval County, Benson became involved with 4-H by judging as a youth and while in college. She is a large-animal expert and earned both a bachelor of science in animal science industry with emphasis in equine management in 2009 and a master of science in animal science in 2011 from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
While completing her master's thesis, she worked full-time as a quality assurance coordinator at Alltech, a privately held animal health company headquartered in Kentucky with a manufacturing facility in Clovis, N.M.
During her three years with the company, she tested the dairy cow supplements the company manufactures and advised on the design of a small-scale, prototype production line based on a larger operation located near the company's headquarters in Lexington, Ky.
Mentoring 4-H members is a little different from her work at Alltech, but Benson sees the carry-over of skills from her previous job as essential, especially in the area of people management and coordination with others.
In addition to her work with 4-H, Benson will need those skills to work with landowners seeking help with animal husbandry and grazing management, to assist growers with noxious weed control or crop production, and to oversee the CSU Master Gardener Volunteer Program.
Her duties will also include generating financial support for educational programs through grant writing, fundraising, and contracting.
Benson received a warm welcome at the Dec. 10 meeting of the Elbert County commissioners, where she was introduced.
“I very much appreciate your support,” she told the commissioners. “I look forward to joining this wonderful community and helping as much as I can.”
Benson says that the door to the extension office in Kiowa is open, and encourages people to come by to get to know her.
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