Mario Magaña Álvarez

Mario Magaña Álvarez | Associate Professor | Oregon 4-H State Outreach Specialist Oregon State University Extension Se

Oregon 4-H State Outreach Specialist

Hablo español (I speak Spanish)

Programs: 4-H Youth Development

Biography

I was born in Mexico in the State of Michoacán in a very small village called “Los Horcones” in the County of Tepalcatepec. I grew up in a family of 17, seven brothers, seven sisters, and my two parents. My parents and all my brothers were born in Mexico. As a child, I never played with toys from the store; my brother and I used to make our own toys from wood, clay, rubber, wire, etc. We usually play on the river or on the countryside chasing each other, fishing or hunting.

I grew up in a family of farm workers. Since I was seven, I started working in agriculture helping my family to grow corn, sesame seeds, watermelons, rice, bananas, etc. We also raise animals like cows, goats, horses, and chickens. I loved working with animals and on the farm. Nevertheless, I recognize that it was a very hard work and sometime I wish I had an easier life as a child. Even though it was a painful childhood, it helped me to develop the strength and the courage that I have now to face challenges and new situation in my professional life. Nothing that I have done in my professional career is as difficult as the things that I did it as a child.

When I was seven years old, I went for the first time to school in my village that only offers 1st to 3rd grades classes; there, I finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. I took two years off of schooling because it was too far for me to go myself to a different village the offers 4th to 6th grades. When my younger brothers (Gumaro and Virginia) finished 3rd grade I was able to continue my education at a different school that was about 7 miles away from home in a different village. After a couple of years of been off from school, I was very happy that I was able to continue my education. Unfortunately, the situation was not easy; we had to go back and forth five days a week for three years; sometimes walking, sometimes on horse, and sometimes on bicycle. Even though it was a challenged to go back and forth for three years, we where I was able to finish 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. I was able to finish elementary school at the age of 15.

After I finish elementary school my dreams were to continue my education in Tepalcatepec (the nearest tow that offers middles school education) but it was unclear because the middle school was about 20 miles away from home and my parent did not have the funding to support us and did not wanted to create false expectation. Also, in my family, school was not an expectation, neither a priority; on the contrary, it was a challenge for any of us who wanted to continue his/her education because my mother believe in education and my father did not. My parents, but specially my mother made an effort to put us in the middle school but they had to pay for room and board and after six months it became very difficult for our parents to pay for six kids room and board and my father requested that two boys dropout from middle school to help him and my two older brother (Germán and Esteban) to work on the fields to help our other brothers to continue their education. My brother Daniel and I volunteered to dropout of school to go back to the village to help our parents and our brother to work on the farm. It was a very sad moment for both of us because we really loved going to school. I knew that education was the key to success but I din not know how to continue on my own and had to continue working in the farm until I was 20 years old.

During my childhood life was not too bad; at least I do not remembering been too badly but during my adolescence it became very hard and painful sometimes. I had to work long hours and in very hot environment, difficult conditions, and without the proper clothing and equipment. During my 15-20 year period, in many occasions I did not have a penny in my pocket to buy me a soda on the weekend, even less to invite my girlfriend to dinner or ice cream. I started to realize that I was in a very difficult environment to grow my own family and started looking for new horizons. At the age of 18, I was so mature that I knew that I need to do something for myself and for my future family. The first option that came to my mind was the United States of America because and had some of my brothers and lots of relatives would help me to find a job.

I came to the United States of America in 1983 looking for work in the fields of agriculture in the state of Washington because working in agriculture was the only experience that I brought from Mexico. The main purpose of coming to the United State was to save money, go back to México, and start my own business to improve my family’s lifestyle.

I arrived to the state of Washington in January 29, 1983. It was snowing and cold but I was so happy because for the first time in my life I was touching snow. After two months without work, I was able to get my first job at the Yakima Chief Ranch in Grandview, Washington. I worked in the fields of agriculture applying pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides; driving tractors and trucks; pruning fruit trees and grapes; and picking apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, asparagus, hops, grapes, etc. After few years working in agriculture in the state of Washington, I realized that I will not be able to save money to go back to Mexico to start my own business that it will be better to rethink my original plan and started making plans to stay in the US. By the late 80’s, the government of the United States have granted me a Green Card, Social Security Number, Driver’s License, paying a home mortgage; and I was married and had a child.

From 1989-1990, I worked in the Iowa Beef Plant located in Pasco, Washington and in 1991 I worked for Phillips Specialty Mechanic Shop in Grandview, Washington.

In the summer of 1990, I was picking apples and listening to a Spanish radio station when I heard about the High School Equivalence Program (HEP) at Washington Sate University offering opportunities for adults to get a General Educational Development Diploma (GED) in Spanish. In the Fall of 1990 received my GED and at the same time (with the support of Ronald E. Rosebrook, HEP Counselor) I applied to Oregon State University through the College Migrant Assistance Program (CAMP). I was admitted in the Fall of 1991 and received my Bachelors Degree in the Spring of 1997. In 1996 with the support of Dr. Scott Reed, I applied to Graduate School at Oregon State University and was accepted to start in the Fall of 1997. I graduated in 1999 with a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Degree (MAIS) in Forest Resource, Adult Education, and Spanish.

In January of 2000, I applied for a 4-H faculty position at Oregon State University and was hired in February 28, 2000. From February 28, 2000 to July 15, 2003, I held a position in Morrow and Umatilla counties as a 4-H Agent. May responsibilities were to create, develop, and implement after school enrichment classes, fun, safe, and educational program, projects, and activities that were cultural appropriate for the Latino youth and families in those counties. From July 16, 2003 to September 30th, 2005, I held a position in Marion, Polk, Yamhill, and Clackamas counties as a 4-H Regional Agent. May responsibilities were to create, develop, and implement after school enrichment classes, fun, safe, and educational program, projects, and activities that were cultural appropriate for the Latino youth and families in those counties. Additional responsibilities were to create materials and resources in English and Spanish, provide support and collaborate with other 4-H Agents and Programs Assistants, end raise funds to support 4-H Leaders, programs, and activities. I also assisted high school students in search for scholarships, loans, Federal Financial Aid, and with other information and resources in support to continuing their education. Furthermore, I encouraged and supported adults to pursue a GED diploma and advised those who were interested in pursuing a career in a college or university.

From October of 2005 to 2011, I hold a position at the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis, Oregon as a 4-H Regional Educator. And since January of 2012 I was assigned to serve as the 4-H Outreach State Specialist for Latino and Underserved Audiences for the state of Oregon. May responsibilities are to provide support and collaborate with 4-H Agents and program assistants in the State who are providing service to the underserved communities, support them to create, develop, and implement after school enrichment classes, programs, projects, and activities that are cultural appropriate for our underserved youth and families and create materials and resources in English and Spanish.

In addition, I am responsible for conducting three one-week-long summer camps and Leadership Institute to prepare high school students for college, explore different career opportunities, and develop leadership skills. The students in these events participate in hands-on workshops related with natural resources, technology, business, health, culture, financial aid, and explore career opportunities. They also meet professional administrators form different ethnic backgrounds, programs, colleges, and departments who share and present successful stories, talk about their lives, and motivate students to continue their education.

Other responsibilities involve raise funds to support these events, support 4-H Leaders as they need, evaluate programs and activities. I also assisted high school students and their families in search for scholarships, loans, Federal Financial Aid, and with other information and resources in support to continuing their education. Furthermore, I encouraged and supported adults to pursue a GED diploma, and advised those who were interested in pursuing a career in a college or university.

My passion is to help people who were in the same or worse situation that I was before I started my education at Oregon State University. I am working with other professionals designing programs to inform the Latino and other underserved populations in the state about the different options they have to start a college education and the resources available for them. The Leadership Institute offers different workshops to help and teach students to apply for college admission, financial aid, and scholarships.

In our life we will encounter many barriers and almost all can be skipped or ovoid except that ones that we put ourselves. It is important that we do not make excuses such as: I'm old, if I could speak better English, if I had studied in my country, if I were American, if I was legal in this country, etc. There is a Chinese proverb that reads “Rice does not cook itself.” People must get off of their minds all sorts of existing barriers and make every effort to set and accomplish new goals and never give up. There are many opportunities in this country, but knowing English, getting some college education, and with a great effort and determination; your dreams and the dreams of your family, relatives, and friends will become real. There is another say that reads "it is better to know something and never use it, than need to do something and not knowing how." There are many great opportunities out there but what good it does for us if we are not prepared for them. It is my believe that everyone with the right information, desire to succeed, and a safe and supportive environment can excel and prosper.

The Program For Which I Work: Oregon State University 4-H Youth Development State Office Address: Ballard Extension Hall, 2591 SW Campus Way, Room 123, Corvallis, Oregon 97331 U.S.A.

The Department For Which I Work: Oregon State University 4-H Youth Development State Office Address: Ballard Extension Hall, 2591 SW Campus Way, Room 123, Corvallis, Oregon 97331 U.S.A.

My College Home: Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences in Corvallis Oregon U.S.A.

My Masters Degree In 1999: Oregon State University College of Forestry in Corvallis Oregon U.S.A.

My Undergraduate Liberal Studies Degree In 1997 Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts in Corvallis Oregon U.S.A.

Esta Página Está Elaborada Por Mario Magaña Álvarez

Last updated 8-25-2020

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