Click to search Click to search

molly hayes rsMolly Hayes, middle, is surrounded by 4-H members she has worked with over the years. Hayes is the National 4-H Salute to Excellence 4-H Volunteer of the Year. Celebrating her award are, front from left, Joel Gonzales, Lauren Wilder, Kaityn Davis, Ashtyn Leden, Emily Heine and Bethany Heine. Back from left are Evan Garcia, Casey Hendren, RaeAnna Gallegos and Brooklyn Powel. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)WRITER: Jane Moorman, 505-249-0527, jmoorman@nmsu.edu

The 4-H program made a difference in Molly Hayes' life while growing up. She now helps it make a difference in the lives of hundreds of Bernalillo County youth and military families.

"School wasn't easy for me," Hayes said. "4-H gave me other skills where I was able to succeed so it kept my self-esteem up."

Hayes' home is considered 4-H Central for the Mountain Heights 4-H Club along with county-wide projects in rabbit and "cavy," commonly known as guinea pigs. But she really promotes 4-H values during her day job.

Working with the Kirtland Air Force Base Airman and Family Services program in Albuquerque, Flight Chief Hayes now introduces military youth to 4-H at the base youth center.

"I love everything about 4-H," she said. "It makes a difference in lives of children and youth."

The National 4-H Council has recognized Hayes' enthusiasm and dedication to youth by honoring her as the 2018 National 4-H Salute to Excellence 4-H Volunteer of the Year.

"Molly has always made sure that any kid who wants to get involved with 4-H or even just getting exposed to 4-H has an opportunity. For this reason and so many more, that is why Molly has received this national recognition," said Brittany Sonntag, Bernalillo County 4-H agent with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

Hayes can't remember a time that 4-H wasn't in her life. Before becoming a 4-H member at age 9, she watched her older sisters participate in the program. Her father, Robert L. O'Nan was a photography leader and was recognized by National 4-H Council for being a national leader.

Growing up, she participated in a wide variety of 4-H projects, served two years on the New Mexico State 4-H Officer Team, and was a National 4-H Congress Photography winner.

Her 4-H experiences helped her to be elected as the NMSU student body president in 1987 while she earned a degree in home economics, early childhood development and social studies.

"I thought I would be a teacher, but I didn't get picked up by a school district," the 1989 NMSU graduate said. "The Military Child Care Act passed about that time and they needed to hire over 200 assistant directors and trainers to help improve their early childhood program."

She reflects back and recalls using her National 4-H record book as part of her interview process.

While being a training and curriculum specialist for the Air Force, Hayes realized 4-H would enhance the military program.

"Years before 4-H began its military program, our youth centers were struggling," she said. "I told my supervisor they needed to do 4-H. Ten years later that supervisor called me to say that the Air Force had partnered with 4-H."

Stationed at Nellis AFB in Nevada at the time, she helped start a traditional 4-H club and led photography and sewing projects for the military youth.

"Having the program at bases eases anxiety and instantly immerses the military children into friendly learning environments," she said. "Just like it did for my children when we moved. My girls would ask if they would have 4-H at our new location."

As Hayes' children continued to benefit from participating in 4-H, she started to take more active volunteer roles to lead 4-H clubs and introduce youth to positive learning experiences.

After returning nine years ago to her native New Mexico as the flight chief at Kirtland AFB, Hayes established active 4-H programs at the youth center to introduce a variety of 4-H projects, including rabbits, cavy, computer coding, model rockets, baking, leadership in government, citizenship and other topics in the installation's before- and after-school programs.

Her steadfast determination and passion for 4-H helps create unique hands-on programing for more than 100 youth on a weekly basis and culminates with dozens of projects entered and displayed at the Bernalillo County Fair.

"To have a successful program on the base, you need dedicated Cooperative Extension Service 4-H agents," Hayes said. "Having fabulous agents in Brittany Sonntag and Nicole Jaynes has made the difference in providing the program at Kirtland AFB. They tremendously support our Air Force program by bringing in people to help the kids."

She also attributes the program's success to the partnership with her programmers, Heather Hutzell and Lucy Burbach, who lead the 4-H programs, and her director, Larry Lynn Torres.

"They have made the 4-H program at Kirtland AFB possible. That joint relationship has made it possible for our military kids to experience 4-H," she said.

Hayes' dedication to 4-H is as strong as her dedication to the families of the military men and women.

"It is an honor to be able to bring the lessons and values of 4-H into our base program," she said. "It supports our military personnel who put their lives on the line for our freedom."

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

Check out Pets to Adopt. The High Desert Humane Society has some new cats and dogs up for adoption.

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as the editor.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds. Check periodically to see if any news ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to editor@grantcountybeat.com and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. It's a software problem, not easily fixable, other than showing fewer articles per summary page. If you are a frequent visitor, you might not mind fewer articles per page, but if you only come once in a while, you likely want to see more articles to browse. Write me at editor@grantcountybeat.com to let me know your feelings on this issue. 

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Newsletter: If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat. 

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member.

We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com