SAN ANTONIO – Desiree Rucker is the new Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Program agent for 4-H and youth development for Bexar County.
She will work from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county office, located in Conroy Square, 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive, San Antonio.
Rucker earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a master’s degree in animal science from Prairie View A&M. She is currently working toward her doctorate in agricultural leadership, education and communication from Texas A&M University.
“When I was younger, I dreamed of being a veterinarian,” Rucker said. “That later developed into an interest in animal science and research. Even more interests grew from there.”
Rucker, the daughter of Air Force officers, was in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and later joined the U.S. Marine Corps. She also taught biology and served as swim team coach at Uvalde High School, and was a research technician at Prairie View A&M University and animal science instructor at Harmony Science Academy for Bryan-College Station.
She also served as a liaison for the Office of International Affairs at Texas A&M, assisting with the Department of Defense language and culture ROTC program, and mentoring and advising students for study-abroad opportunities.
Rucker’s professional and community affiliations include membership in the Gamma Sigma Delta agricultural honor society, the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education and American Society for Animal Science.
“We’re delighted to have someone of Desiree’s education and experience helping youth through our various county 4-H and youth development efforts,” said Lupe Landeros, director for AgriLife Extension in Bexar County. “Her wide range of interests and experiences will be helpful in letting young people see what can be accomplished when they apply themselves.”
Landeros said Rucker would be working with youth countywide, but would primarily be focusing her efforts on at-risk youth in limited-resource areas. Her efforts will complement those of AgriLife Extension staff working with 4-H clubs countywide, which are administered by that agency.
“I’m excited about working with at-risk kids here in Bexar County and helping get them interested in different aspects of agriculture,” Rucker said. “Because with agriculture, as long as people need to eat, you know you’ll have a career.”
She said she also wants to help develop youth interest related to international agriculture, animal science, developing leadership and life skills, gardening and other topics.
“I plan to implement an iLEAD program called ‘In Pursuit of Happiness’ to involve youth in leadership and personal responsibility,” Rucker said. “I also want to address how kids can build self-esteem, deal with bullying and understand how to interact with people from different backgrounds. I’d also like to work with their parents toward building parenting skills and addressing the challenges of being a single parent.”
Rucker said growing up on Air Force bases and teaching youth in more rural areas has showed her the need to understand people’s “cultural” differences and perspectives. This was further reinforced by her experiences traveling to India and Thailand to learn about rural agriculture in those countries as part of a study-abroad program through Texas A&M.
“Developing cultural intelligence is very important,” she said. “We’re a global community now and we need to teach our kids about other cultures and how to relate to people who are different from themselves.”