An Internet-based consumer education competition called LifeSmarts is challenging teenagers throughout the commonwealth on their knowledge of personal finance, health and safety, the environment, technology, and consumer rights and responsibilities. Teams compete online for a chance to attend Virginia's state competition in early March.

“LifeSmarts is basic business, civics, home economics and street smarts all rolled into one,” said Celia Ray Hayhoe, Virginia’s LifeSmarts coordinator and a Virginia Cooperative Extension family resource management specialist. “With LifeSmarts, teens learn to avoid common consumer pitfalls, navigate government, and understand credit-card jargon before they sign the dotted line.”

Teachers and other leaders wishing to give teens in grades nine through 12 an opportunity to compete in LifeSmarts can seek more information, register, and take a practice quiz on the LifeSmarts website. Virginia Cooperative Extension’s more information has additional information about the state competition, to be held at Virginia Commonwealth University on March 6, 2009.

The winning state team receives an all-expense paid trip to St. Louis, Mo., for the national competition on April 25-28, 2009. Last year’s winning state team from Spotsylvania High School placed third in the nation.

For the first time this year, students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade can participate online in a Junior Varsity competition. The top two Virginia teams in the junior varsity competition will be invited to the Virginia LifeSmarts competition in March to vie for the state junior varsity title.

Teens can take part in LifeSmarts in a variety of ways: school projects, after-school clubs, home-school organizations, scouts, boys and girls clubs, 4-H, or a church group. High school students participate in teams of four to five. An adult coach must register the team online before it can participate. Online entries will be accepted until Feb. 6, 2009.

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