NTAE: "Teaching Money Matters" Feature Story

trying to ensure all program implementation is done cor- rectly and using the same evaluation tool to collect the best possible data and maintain program fidelity. Extension educators often face the challenge of delivering programming in dynamic environments. Although pre-de- fined series of lessons are effective in producing measurable outcomes, educators may also need to provide education in settings that don’t meet the standard delivery requirements. To address this, our team developed a statewide financial literacy education program—guided by best practices in the U.S. National Strategy for Financial Literacy (2020)—with a flexible process that allows educators to customize the program and evaluation tools to fit their unique circumstanc- es without compromising program outcome data.

Our methods enable educators to deliver program content in various settings, including smaller programs, while still measuring outcomes. We’ve incorporated cross-discipline perspectives in pro- gram design and collaboration, including all program units within WVU Extension. Because financial literacy affects everyone, having multiple disciplines represented has pro- vided valuable insight and information. This is an effective model that should be incorporated into future programming. Our marketing plan also emphasizes our cross-disciplinary approach. By showcasing the Financial Literacy Education team’s cross-university partnerships and collaborations with state institutions, we highlight the diversity of Extension’s programs and the strength of our statewide network. This helps the public understand that WVU Extension is working beyond our agricultural roots. ■

Lauren Weatherford, associate professor and Extension agent at West Virginia University, has a powerful story about the impact that financial literacy class on basic finance had on one adult participant. “This participant seemed to pay particularly close attention and asked lots of questions. Months later this student told me that she had taken the information she learned in the pro- gram, sat down with her husband, and creat- ed a budget. Things were very tight. The only place she could find to cut was to stop smok- ing, so she did. Two months later her husband also quit smoking. This freed up just enough money for the two of them to start saving. PROGRAM IMPACT

This approach has implications for collective outcome mea- surement, which is often a gap in Extension organizations.

“Of all possible topics, 2023—as a year of runaway inflation—cried for financial management education. The WVU team created a multi-dimensional curriculum and flexible approach to match multiple learner needs.”

While there are other factors that contributed to the changes in their lives, in the time since our program they moved into better housing and she started attending college. She told me they got on track to provide a better quality of life for their family. Their understanding of how to manage their finances was a big piece of that.”

—Dr. Scott Reed and Dr. Jimmy Henning, NTAE Catalysts

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