The new University of Nevada representative has arrived in Ely. Through the university’s Cooperative Extension program, located at the White Pine County Library, Juan Carlos Cervantes is here to serve.
“The spirit of the position is to get out to the rural communities,” Cervantes said.
Cervantes started with a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. He then attended the University of Michigan for his master’s in Urban and Regional Planning. After that, he earned his doctorate in Forestry from the University of Minnesota.
“My goal was to work for development agencies,” Cervantes said. “I’m here to do what the community wants, but I have no reservations about speaking the truth.”
The role of the Extension Agent is to provide access to a larger intellectual network, in addition to the opportunities provided at Great Basin College.
“The role has changed over time,” Cervantes said. “We need technical and leadership skills, whether it’s in college or a career in a technical field. Anything the community can benefit from. It’s about economic development and resource management. The water issue is big. I’m here to help communities use their natural resources to develop.
“Things have changed. I’m here to improve agricultural practices. I’m an extension of the university, but I’m here to do anything the community can benefit from. I’m an advocate for local people. This is a boom and bust town, heavily reliant on mining and agriculture. The community is pretty hardy. They have a good sense of who they are. I welcome anyone. I don’t have all the answers but I’ll certainly help to find the resources.”
Cervantes also worked a tenant farm in Minnesota growing hay and vegetables.
“I want to work with farmers to improve production and find new markets,” Cervantes said. “We want to get enough local young men and women to produce local produce to sell to local restaurants. That way the money generated here stays here, and we’re not buying from Mexico or California. I want a better way to help people, but we have to see the value of being involved. We need involvement. We are a catalyst, but it’s up to the people.”
One of Cervantes’ strategies is to update the 4H program. Another is a creative works studio where youth can come to work on their mechanical skills. Drones are no longer the future, but the present, and he wants local youth to start building them. He has also coached youth soccer.
“I also want to give my time to local kids,” Cervantes said. “I understand that not everyone is going to like me, but I’m going to stick to the best knowledge that I have and I’m going to stick to the truth. It’s the best for everybody. I want to connect with the leadership and I want to work with the people. I want to be one of them, working side by side with the folk. My ultimate aim is to serve. I’m a bit of an idealist and the environment is just beautiful.”