Raising conscientious consumers is one of the many missions of the 4-H Club and the AgriLIFE Extension service - and those lessons are taking local 4-Hers far.

On Saturday, Erath County Consumer Decision Making teams made an "outstanding showing" at the district contest in Waco, according to Donna White, county extension agent for family and consumer science.

In addition to a number of individual honors, the junior, intermediate and senior teams placed in the event.

The Intermediate team, consisting of Will Singleton, Patrick Delaney, Will Petit and Conner McKinzie stole the show when they were ranked 1st out of 12 teams competing for the title.

Also in the Intermediate age division, Connor McKinzie and Will Pettit were ranked 2nd and 3rd place individually, and the team of Payton Whitfield, Karsen Styron, Madison Brown and London Jones placed 4th.

Meanwhile, the Junior team, which consisted of Riley McKinzie, Victoria Saucedo, Weston Pettit and Nathan Starnes was ranked 2nd out of 9 teams.

Other Juniors who received recognition for their decision making skills included Riley McKinzie, who placed "2nd high" as an individual and Morgan McKinzie, who placed "5th high."

The Senior team, consisting of Jake Singleton, Laurie Tolboom, Kelley Royal and Kline Jones also got a nod from judges as they placed 4th out of 15 teams.

Also participating as individuals in the Senior category were Zane and Courtney Whitehead.

"Congratulations to these 4-Hers who represented Erath County well and to their coaches — Jeff and Melanie Royal and Kelli McKinzie," White said.

How does 4-H Consumer Decision Making work?

According to http://fcs.tamu.edu, a buying problem is presented to each class, which describes a scenario—a hypothetical set of

circumstances somewhat like a case study. Contestants assume the role of consumers in the situation and consider which item best fits the needs, wants and criteria described in the situation provided.

"Older 4-Hers also have to present reasons to a panel of judges on why they ranked the items as they did," White said. "It is one thing to place a class correctly but quite another to be able to explain the reasons why the class was placed as it was. The ability to give oral reasons comes from experience in decision making, by making comparisons and from a thorough knowledge of the product information for the class."

Contestants will base their decision on information learned through the study guides provided by 4-H and the AgriLIFE Extension office.

Competitors in the Junior and Intermediate divisions judged sunscreen, bottled water, credit cards, digital photo frames and laundry detergents and were asked to weigh in on a "mystery class."

Senior 4-Hers judged the same classes but were also asked to make decisions on Roth IRA’s for working kids.

In speaking to the history of the consumer decision making contest, White said it has been active in Erath County for more than 10 years. To prepare for the event volunteer coaches Jeff and Melanie Royal met with the youth weekly prior to the contest to practice judging classes and giving reasons for their decisions.