Fostering financial knowledge: Webinar series and online course offer opportunities

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Farm Forum

This article was first published in the SDSU Extension 2013 Annual Report within the Spring 2014 edition of South Dakota Growing magazine; a publication of SDSU College of Agriculture & Biological Sciences.

Financial topics related to budgeting, saving for retirement, health insurance and other aspects are important for everyone to understand. To help South Dakotans have access to that information, SDSU Extension has created a series of financial education webinars titled Growing Financial Wellness.

Funded through a two-year grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through a partnership with United Way Worldwide, SDSU Extension launched the free webinar series in October 2013 with twelve webinar sessions offered on various financial topics during the fall and in spring 2014. New webinars will be presented for fall 2014 and spring 2015.

“The goal of these workshops is to provide South Dakotans high-quality unbiased financial education opportunities,” says SDSU Extension Family Resource Management Specialist Carrie Johnson, who has overseen the program and is often a presenter for the webinars. She shares that the webinar series is patterned after a similar program that was conducted by Montana State University Extension.

Johnson says a goal of the webinar program is to determine if online financial education works well in rural states.

Johnson notes that the webinars are designed for anyone interested in learning more about personal finance topics. She emphasizes that there is no cost to participate in the series and no products or services are sold or recommended during the series. Individuals can participate from the comfort of their home or office, or host locations are also offered at the West River Ag Center in Rapid City and the Regional Extension Centers in Sioux Falls and Pierre.

Along with Johnson, SDSU Extension Family Resource Management Field Specialist, Karen Slunecka has also been involved with the program as a webinar presenter, and guest presenters are also featured on the webinars for certain specialty topics.

Johnson reports that 140 people have participated in one or more of the fall webinars. Evaluations are held at the end of each block of topics, and Johnson says feedback has been positive. Follow-up evaluations will be conducted this summer to determine if participation in the series leads to behavior change.

One request that came from the evaluations was for an online, self-study class related to the financial topics covered in the webinars to be offered for individuals to take at their own pace. That has been developed and is now available via the iGrow portal. Individuals who complete the class will receive a certificate at the end of each module.

All of the Growing Financial Wellness webinars and worksheet resources are archived on iGrow.org. Under the Healthy Families tab select “Family and Personal Finance.” Then scroll to the middle of the page and select the gray “Financial Wellness” tab. The self-study course called Growing Financial Wellness MOOC can also be accessed on this page.