SPOKANE — University of Idaho Extension educators Lyle Hansen and Luke Erickson taught the value of maintaining a good credit score and good credit history to Washington FFA members through a game, “Who Wants to be a Credit Score Millionaire?”
“The minute you turn 18, your credit becomes accessible to all lenders,” Erickson told FFA students from roughly 12 area high schools during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.
The educators said 50 percent of employers check credit records when making hiring decisions. They told the students to make all payments on time, keeping loan balances low and avoiding short-term loans and payday lenders.
Northwest Farm Credit Services and CoBank sponsored the FFA session.
The credit service and UI Extension are developing a course to teach youth financial literacy and responsibility.
The credit service committed $280,000 to the four-year project.
“Kids these days don’t realize you’re not supposed to have seven credit cards,” said Jennifer Rohrer, public relations and communications coordinator for the credit service. “Even the littlest things help when they come to us and ask for a loan.”
Erickson and Hansen will develop training programs for 4-H volunteers, school teachers and credit service employees.
“Our whole goal is to help educate youth,” said farm credit service executive vice president Fred DePell. “The whole concept of financial literacy is going to make them better potential customers for us, better producers, better stewards of the land.”
Kim O’Neill, senior director of development in UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, said the program will reach youth in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
O’Neill expects to hold a summit in the first year of the four-year program.
Rohrer said UI will spearhead the program in 4-H, then expand to FFA and agricultural classrooms throughout the Northwest.
Teaching 4-H and FFA members about financial responsibility adds value for rural communities and agriculture in general, DePell said.
“They’re going to be smarter, they’re going to be more challenging, more selective and I think they’re going to be more competitive and successful,” he said. “If they’re more successful, I think that’s going to help those of us that work with them in this industry.”
Northwest Farm Credit Services: www.northwestfcs.com
University of Idaho: www.uidaho.edu