Tack on some career and financial education into your horse project area

There are easy ways to build financial, career and entrepreneurship skills into equine-focused youth group.

Many youth groups or after-school programs, including 4-H clubs, have a strong project focus. They are the draw for youth and volunteers to engage in the programming and taps into individuals’ primary interest and passion. Programs can also serve as an opportunity to build other life skills in areas such as career preparation,  financial education and entrepreneurship. It can be done simply and easily and will help young people connect their project into future potential careers.

Here are four simple ways that a club that focuses on horses could infuse additional life skills into their already existing program:

  1. Discuss career paths that those who are interested in horses might pursue. Consider looking beyond non-traditional careers such as becoming a veterinarian, like equine massage, research, dentistry, chiropractic, nutrition, reproduction/artificial insemination, training and racing. Have individuals who are in these professions attend a club meeting or ask about visiting their place of business. These individuals can share information about their education, provide insight on what a typical day is like and share how they entered the occupation. If they are an entrepreneur, they can explain details on how they started their own company, as well as share success and challenges of business ownership (entrepreneurship).
  2. When meeting with various career professionals or when having guest speakers, have youth practice their business handshake. Use the meeting prior to learn this skill and then make sure each youth shakes the professional’s hand and introduces him or herself.
  3. Have the youth create a budget for the year for their horse project. What are the costs for shows, clothes, boarding, veterinary bills, educational events, feed, transportation, etc.? What is the income that the youth or family expects to help cover those costs?
  4. Encourage older youth to gain experience in horse-related fields if they have an interest in pursuing that field. They can volunteer, job shadow or obtain an internship with a professional.
  5. Explore ways youth can earn money like banding, braiding horses for others, or cleaning stalls and unloading trailers at shows. It is also a good idea to discuss how any academic content area a young person has an interest in or skill in can be fused with the horse industry. Like English and journalism? Write for a horse magazine! Like fashion and jewelry design? Design show clothes. Brainstorm more of these ideas with youth!

Suggestions on how to support youth in these areas can be found in the 4-H curriculum, Build Your Future: Choices, Connections, Careers. These activities can easily be infused into your club’s focus area with a simple project focus twist. For assistance with this, contact your local Michigan State University Extension  office.

Infusing these skill areas into your club program will enhance the education and impact for youth and will help youth be successful in their adult lives.

More information on career preparation, entrepreneurship and financial education for youth can also be found on the Michigan State University Extension website.

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