Teaching Youth to be Smart Consumers
“Experts estimate that 2 to 14 year-olds have sway over $500 billion a year in household purchasing (Calvert 2008).” In other words, adults make decisions each day concerning purchases for their household, but youth have tremendous influence over what parents are buying. The 4-H Consumer Choices judging contest is ideal for helping youth understand the underlying value behind goods and services available for purchase in today’s free market society- a life skill that will serve them well throughout their life!
Last week’s post shared some research about how 4-H Judging programs help youth attain workforce skills for the 21st century. The 4-H Consumer Choices program is a judging program that helps youth learn how to study and evaluate the latest consumer products in a friendly, competitive setting. Each year, four topics, or products are selected by subject-matter specialists at UF. They prepare guides for both coaches (volunteers) and youth with background information and sample scenarios to judge.
Judy Corbus is the Family, Youth and Communities Sciences Agent in both Washington and Holmes Counties. She is part of a state-wide team that provides leadership for the Consumer Choices program for Florida 4-H. When asked what inspires her most to work with this program, she shared:
“Teaching 4-H members how to evaluate a product and make an informed decision based on their needs and budget is an essential life skill they will use long after they graduate from 4-H. A 4-H alum, now in his early 30s, who had participated in the Consumer Choices program in my county recently attended my homebuyer education class. He shared that Consumer Choices was the one 4-H program in which he still uses the skills he had learned from it in his daily life as an adult. That testimony really encourages me and validates the role of the program in developing financial literacy skills in young people.”
What products do youth evaluate? Each year, different products are chosen. This year’s products are:
- Outdoor Backpacks
- Energy Drinks – Oral Reasons Class (youth will defend their choices to a panel of judges- a great opportunity to begin developing those public speaking skills)
- Digital Cameras
- Active Wear
How do youth prepare for the contest? Study guides are provided each year that contain all relevant information about each project. Contact your local 4-H agent to receive a copy of the study guides, or click on the links above to download a guide. Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office to inquire about the next scheduled training for youth or coaches.
When is the competition? These events are usually conducted at county and area fairs across the state. Regional competitions are held at the Pensacola Interstate Fair, North Florida Fair, South Florida Fair, and the Florida State Fair. You will need to register through your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.
How do I get involved? Youth may want to explore this topic through a day camp, workshop or as part of an actual team, or even as an individual. Enroll in 4-H online, then Contact your local 4-H agent for the date(s) of the Consumer Choices Contest, workshop or day camp in your area. If you are an adult with a passion for money management, budgeting, or smart shopping, consider serving as a coach for a team or a speaker for a day camp or workshop. To get started, contact your local office or visit http://florida4h.org.
- Consumer Choices Judging Contest Rules for the North Florida Fair (November 12th)
- Consumer Choices Project Page