April 1, 2005 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson
GREENUP, Ky.

American teens spend an average of $103 per week, according to Teenage Research Unlimited. That equals roughly $5,346 per year and makes teenagers a major player in the U.S. economy. 

Select high school juniors in Greenup County attended a program offered by Greenup County Extension Service to learn about the U.S. economy and the role they play as a part of it. The American Private Enterprise System program is designed to teach students about how this country does business. 

“APES has been around a long time and it concentrates on educating students about our economic system and their role in that economy,” said Kathy Junker, University of Kentucky Extension agent for 4-H youth development in Greenup County. “We concentrate on the government’s role in the economy and the structure of business. We also concentrate on basic economic philosophies like supply and demand.”

The students meet regularly in local study groups with executives of local businesses and educators for discussion and hands-on experiences. Participants take a series of quizzes and those with the highest scores can advance to a state competition to compete for cash, expense-paid trips and college scholarships.

As part of the county-level program, students heard from local professionals including attorneys, bankers and counselors who explained what it takes to start a business. They also visited Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital to listen to nurses, therapists, hospital administrators, communications specialists and others discuss their careers

“It’s good to be able to relay information to the students about opportunities in health care,” said Kathy Kee, a registered nurse. “They come from so many diverse backgrounds and they need to know what’s out there because this is the time they begin to choose [a career] and they need to know all the options.”

Kee said her mother was a housewife and her father was a factory worker.

“In the 1960s the dad brought home the money and the mom raised the kids,” she said. “Fortunately I knew what I wanted to do. Students today need to know that they are not limited by their gender or their grades. There are opportunities for everyone. It’s all about diversity. Whether you want to be a nurse, a therapist or whatever, you can still make a difference to the people you serve.”

Hailiegh Ross, Rebecca Sicking and Tyler Frailie, all Russell High School juniors, posted the highest quiz scores and will travel to Lexington in June to participate in the Kentucky Youth Seminar at UK. They will meet national business leaders and participate in real-world business decisions. Seminar scores are combined with points from a written application form to determine which students will attend the National Institute on Cooperative Education.

The APES program is jointly sponsored by UK College of Agriculture and the Kentucky Council of Cooperatives.

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee Heald-Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Kathy Junker 606-473-9881