CoBank Gives $150,000 to Expand UI Extension 4-H Youth Financial Literacy Project

Wednesday, April 30 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – April 30, 2014 – A $150,000 gift from CoBank, a national cooperative bank, will help the University of Idaho Extension 4-H program to expand efforts to teach young people about credit and financial literacy.

The Northwest Farm Credit Services Youth Financial Literacy Program was established last year with $280,000 from the ag lender for a four-year pilot project. It expands education efforts developed by UI Extension educators Luke Erickson and Lyle Hansen to Washington, Oregon,Montana and Alaska.

Erickson of Rexburg and Hansen of Jerome direct the regional program, which builds on their initial work through the UI 4-H youth development program.

Overall, UI Extension efforts to date have helped some 40,000 young Idahoans learn about personal finance through the National Endowment for Financial Education’s High School Financial Planning Program, Hansen said.

Their efforts focus on helping youth learn financial savvy to build positive credit histories and avoid credit pitfalls. “Our long-term focus is on the credit score program, but we will include many other program topics as well,” Erickson said.

CoBank, a provider of financial services to agribusinesses, rural power, water and communications providers nationwide, was introduced to the program by Northwest Farm Credit Services, its Farm Credit partner.

Plans for the CoBank gift include establishing an endowment to fund long-term youth financial literacy education and developing new technology, such as an educational electronic game built around the Credit Score Millionaire program. Remaining CoBank funding will support curriculumdevelopment and small grants for local programs.

“Economic education and financial literacy have never been more important than they are today,” said Chuck Olsen, lead relationship manager, CoBank. “One could argue they are as essential as math, science and the humanities to a well-rounded curriculum that will help students in the real world.”

“That’s why CoBank is so pleased to partner with the University of Idaho, 4-H and our fellow Farm Credit member, Northwest Farm Credit Services, to expand the reach of this important program,” Olsen added.

Erickson and Hansen presented their Credit Score Millionaire program to Washington State and Idaho FFA members at the Spokane Ag Expo in February. In mid-April, they trained 4-H professionals from Western states who gathered for a UI-sponsored regional conference in Boise.

The program will take its next major step May 1-2 at Spokane at a meeting with Northwest Farm Credit Services and CoBank employees and representatives of 4-H programs in Idaho, Washington, Oregon,Montana and Alaska.

The regional meeting will offer a forum for reviewing programs from other states that may already be successful and incorporating the best ideas into the new regional effort.

“I’m pretty excited about it. I think it’s going to be a pivotal point in where we go from here,” Erickson said. “When we get together with our partners we can decide what works, what doesn’t and what specific audiences need.”

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