MCALLEN, RGV – Yolanda Saldaña Woods, the new director of Alamo area for FIRST in Texas, has been in the Rio Grande Valley for the past few days.

Woods, a native of San Benito, was in the Valley to attend FIRST RGV’s 2018-19 robotics competition season kickoff, which was held at Nikki Rowe High School in McAllen on Saturday. She told the Rio Grande Guardian was very impressed.

“It was really refreshing to see the level of support FIRST RGV received from the school districts in the Valley, Harlingen, Brownsville, McAllen, PSJA,” Woods said. “I am taking back to San Antonio a lot of ideas on how to make our kickoff event as exciting as FIRST RGV’s. We do not have the speakers and the cheerleaders and the drums, all the things that make the kickoff truly special for the students.”

On Monday, Woods joined FIRST RGV President Jason Arms and Mario Lozoya, executive director of Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation Executive Director, in making a presentation to invited guests at the Mexican Consulate’s Office in McAllen. FIRST RGV is offering to help start FIRST robotics competitions in Reynosa and Matamoros.

Later, Woods sat down for an exclusive podcast with the Rio Grande Guardian. She spoke about her recent visit to Mexico City, where she attended the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge. Mexico’s commitment to the event was evidenced by appearances from both outgoing president, Enrique Peña Nieto, and incoming president, Andres Manuel López Obrador.

Woods also spoke about Arms’ plans to incorporate AmeriCorps VISTA, a national service program designed to alleviate poverty, into the FIRST RGV program.

Editor’s Note: The main photo accompanying the above story shows Jason Arms, president of FIRST RGV, and Yolanda Saldana Woods, Alamo Area director for FIRST in Texas.