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Expanding 4-H financial program awarded grant

States across the northwest will soon be using a program started in Idaho to educate kids about money. The University of Idaho’s Extension 4-H program hosts the Youth Financial Literacy Program. Northwest Farm Credit Services helped established the program last year thanks to a $280,000 grant. Now, the project has been awarded an additional $150,000 from CoBank.

Extension educator Luke Erickson attended a conference in Washington this past weekend to present the Credit Score Millionaire game. Alaska, Montana, Oregon and Washington will be part of its expansion.

Erickson says 4-H has been a proven way to reach youth.4-H is known for kids raising animals and showing them at county fairs. Often times, they earn money doing so. 4-H aims to teach its students to be responsible adults, and that includes managing money.

“Establishing credit, understanding how to borrow money effectively, understanding contracts when you get into them, with a particular emphasis on student loans,” are all things that the program teaches, said Erickson.

He recently presented to a Ririe High School economics class, mostly made up of seniors ready to attend college in the fall.

“As a senior, it’s important to me because we’re getting ready to go into the real world and we need to know a lot about finances,” said Erica Odell, senior at Ririe High School.

“It’s scary thinking about it, what if I don’t have enough money,” said Brittany Fisher, another RHS senior.

“I don’t want to be 80 years old and still have debt still. With me about to go to school, it’s important to know how to stay out of debt,” said RHS senior Destaney Handy.

Now, even more students will learn those lessons.

“What we are going to be doing is providing the programs, curriculum in simple little package that a high school teacher or college professor or even volunteers from the community can pick up and take and go out and teach on their own,” said Erickson.

The classes are aimed at students 16-22 and also include lessons about savings and investments.

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