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S.D. farm group continues to cultivate leaders

Wolsey-Wessington High School's winning PSA was created by the following students L to R: Back Row: Devon Metter, Jamie Cutshaw, Zach Reilly and Matt Larsen. Front Row: Justin Clark and Judd King. Photo courtesy S.D. Farmers Union

Six Wolsey/Wesssington High School students learned how to protect their credit score and earned a cash prize from South Dakota Farmers Union as winners of the Making $ense of Credit and Finance PSA Competition.

The winning team includes the following students: Devon Metter, Jamie Cutshaw, Zach Reilly, Matt Larsen, Justin Clark and Judd King.

“You can talk about the importance of paying bills on time all you want, but hands-on activities are the best way to help students’ understand the value of a good credit score and financial management,” explains Erin Wilcox, SDFU Rural Development Specialist.

Wilcox is the coordinator of the contest which encourages students to take what they learn from the Farmers Union Jr. REAL (Junior Rural Economic and Leadership) one-day program, and put it into action by creating a video PSA (public service announcement).

“Understanding the value of a credit score is critical,” says Caroline McGillvrey, a high school teacher and technology coordinator for Wolsey/Wessington High School. “If you put a credit card into the hands of someone who does not realize the power of how it can work – for or against them – the result can follow them for the rest of their life.”

McGillvrey teaches the Video Editing class where the winning students created their PSA.

Set to catchy music with a comedic edge, the PSA shows a high school student receiving his first credit card in the mail, spending excessively at stores across town, and then tossing bills in the garbage instead of paying them. All the while, his credit score continues to drop.

“I learned the importance of not throwing away your bills and to pay bills on time,” explains Matt Larsen, 16, one of the six team members who created the PSA.

Teammate Jamie Cutshaw, 16, added that the competition also emphasized the value of a good credit score. “We were learning about credit scores from the Jr. REAL program and in our Personal Finance class, so the contest made sense and sounded interesting.”

More about Jr. REAL

Farmers Union is developing future leaders through the Jr. REAL program which brings leadership development and life skills training to rural high schools throughout South Dakota. During the 2015-2016 school year, Jr. REAL will reach about 1,000 South Dakota students in rural communities.

“We focus on rural high schools because they may not have the opportunity to bring in leadership development speakers that larger schools do,” explains Wilcox.

When organizing the program, Wilcox invites top-notch speakers to present during the one-day program. This school year, students have heard from Survivor contestant, Holly Hoffman and agriculture advocate and Kansas farmer, Greg Peterson to leadership and life skills coaches Toby Kane, Gerri Ann Eide and Malcom Chapman and others.

“This is a great opportunity for Farmers Union to invest in tomorrow’s future. The program is designed to encourage students to become leaders, get involved in their community and prepare them for life after high school by giving them common-sense tips to avoid credit and encourage them to pay their bills on time,” Wilcox says.

To learn more about Jr. REAL and see the winning PSA for yourself, visitwww.sdfu.org/rural-development-/junior-real.

–South Dakota Farmers Union


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