CoBank Supports 4-H Youth

CoBank Supports 4-H Youth

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

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.”

About UI

The University of Idaho is the state’s flagship institution and one of only 72 land-grant research universities across the country. Home to nearly 12,000 students, the UI is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach.  U-Idaho is home to the Vandals and competes in the Western Athletic Conference.  Learn more:

About CoBank

CoBank is a $98 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country.

CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture and the nation's rural economy.

Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and also maintains an international representative office in Singapore.

For more information about CoBank, visit the bank's web site at


Bill Loftus, Science Writer, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, (208) 885-7694,

Kim O’Neill, Assistant Dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, (208) 885-4038,

Lyle Hansen, Extension Educator, University of Idaho Extension/Jerome County, (208) 324-7578,

Luke Erickson, Extension Educator, University of Idaho Extension, (208) 359-6216,