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Agriculture Press Release

March 5, 2002

Seminole County 4-H team wins LifeSmarts state championship at Florida State Fair

TALLAHASSEE -- A five-member team of high school students from the Seminole County 4-H Club in Sanford won the sixth annual LifeSmarts competition held at the Florida State Fair in Tampa.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson, whose agency sponsored the state competition, will present the winning team and its coach with a check for $3,500 to defray expenses to the national competition later this spring. The Sanford Seminole team will participate in this year’s national finals April 13-16 in Arlington, Va.

Students from around Florida competed for the state championship of "LifeSmarts ... the Ultimate Consumer Challenge," on February 18 at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. LifeSmarts is an innovative competition that tests students in five important areas of consumer issues: personal financial management, health and safety, the environment, technology and telecommunications, and consumer rights and responsibilities. The program is designed to encourage students to think seriously about these important issues through a challenging, game-show format.

En route to qualifying for the Florida State Championship, 14 coaches with 20 teams from Florida public and private high schools, 4-H clubs and home schools competed in Internet-based preliminary competition, which ran from October 15, 2001, until     January 11, 2002.

Shelda Wilkens, 4-H agent in Seminole County, coached the winning team comprised of high school students John Terwilleger, Ricky McOwen, Dan Estry, Sarah Bastin and Jonothan Estry. Two teams from Martin County High School placed second and third, while two teams from Hudson High School placed fourth and fifth.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is Florida’s lead agency for consumer issues. The Department registers various businesses, such as motor vehicle repair shops, health studios, telemarketers, business opportunities and charitable solicitors. It also serves as the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints and operates the Consumer Help Line 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352).

"High school students spend billions of dollars each year, but studies show that many lack knowledge about consumer issues," Bronson said. "Through the LifeSmarts program, students learn how to get answers to practical problems, like buying a car and insurance, or applying for a credit card. These are skills that will last a lifetime."

The national coordinator of the LifeSmarts competition is the National Consumers League (NCL). Founded in 1899, the League is a national non-profit organization that identifies, protects, represents and advances the economic and social interests of consumers and workers through education and advocacy. NCL operates LifeSmarts and works in partnership with other non-profit government and education groups in the states. Community-minded businesses, associations and government agencies provide the financial support to make LifeSmarts available free of charge to students nationwide.

To learn more about the LifeSmarts competition, check out the LifeSmarts web site at www.fl-ag.com/lifesmarts.


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