Source: Kimberly A. Foster, extension specialist for 4-H youth development
Despite a lengthy educational process, many youth lack knowledge of basic financial management, money handling, customer service and general business concepts. The 4-H Be the E Club addresses these gaps in learning, providing a framework in which youth experience entrepreneurial skills, management, marketing and fundamentals such as planning, making change, placing orders and record keeping. While the 4-H’ers can earn money, the club is not a venue for money-making, but rather a way for youth to gain financial skills through hands-on experiences.
Through the 4-H: Be the E: Entrepreneurship clubs, youth learn the fundamentals of operating a business and product development. In the end of the educational process youth complete a business plan for their respective businesses. Through these direct, creative experiences, youth learn about decision making, marketing, product development, pricing, customer relations and other vital skills that apply to life regardless of career path.
Some 4-H Entrepreneurship projects have included:
- Notecards with original photography
- Scrabble tile jewelry
- Cookie cutters of various shapes
- Goat’s milk soap
- Baby bows and products
- Sand art products
The success of the entrepreneurship projects lies in “teachable moments,” or those instances in which a member comprehends an intrinsic business truth. For instance, it may be grasping that even if a product sells well, profits might not exceed its cost, leading to a financial loss. This can create an avenue for problem solving, and a new method or skill is necessary, or even that more employees are needed at the booth to ensure customer satisfaction. Youth might even come to the realization that entrepreneurship is not the best avenue for them.
It is these moments, experienced in real situations that make the 4-H: Be the E: Entrepreneurship clubs such a compelling learning experience for youth, preparing them to participate in and understand business transactions successfully.
For more information about 4-H entrepreneurship programs, contact the (YOUR COUNTY) Cooperative Extension Service.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.