By Joyce Coronel
In an era of crushing credit card debt and widespread financial illiteracy, a South Tempe mom has helped to launch a local “Revolution of Responsibility.”
It’s a revolution that finds its source in 4-H clubs spread across the country, including Tempe, that teach young people how to make positive changes in their community. Katy Holditch, who helped develop the Buena Vista Mavericks 4-H Club in her neighborhood, has been leading the charge for 12 years. “Join the Revolution of Responsibility” are the watchwords for 4-H clubs that reach millions of kids to help them learn by doing.
Growing up in Yuma County, 4-H had a lasting effect on Holditch, who went on to share that heritage with her daughter, Sarah. The family has made its home in the equestrian Buena Vista Ranchos in South Tempe for years with many youngsters, like Sarah, who through hands-on learning pledge to serve and build stronger communities.
After Sarah left for college, Holditch figured she’d retire from her 4-H duties. That’s when a club member approached and asked if she’d be willing to serve as a secondary leader for an entrepreneurship program. Holditch agreed, assuming it would be a small, low-key affair.
And that’s how the Maverick Biz Kid$ club was born. The growing club teaches young people—many of them horse-lovers—how to create and run their own business. Each member learns to be an entrepreneur by creating, developing, running and marketing a small business.
Cary’s Critters, owned and operated by a middle school student, offers care for horses, chickens, dogs and cats, for example. “By employing Cary’s, you help her fund her horse-riding activities and pay for her extracurricular activities. Her dream is to own her own horse,” the club’s webpage announces.
“When kids want to pursue something, they find out that it’s not free—especially horseback riding,” Holditch said. A saddle alone costs $500-$1,000 and the food isn’t cheap either.
“A food bill for a horse could be about $100-$200 per month, depending on what the horse requires,” Holditch said. Then there are the fees for entering horse shows.
While plenty of parents living in South Tempe could easily write a check to cover those costs, many are realizing that the lessons learned through hard work represent a bigger payoff.
“They learn money doesn’t grow on trees. They also learn the pride of earning the money and spending it on something they want,” Holditch said. “There is gratification that comes from actually using your own money to purchase something you want.”
The 18 kids in the club also learn a fundamental financial fact: When the money’s gone, it’s gone. Holditch said she encourages club members to start small, thinking about a skill they have they can market.
Ellen Liebig, 13, is an eighth-grader at Kyrene Middle School. Her specialty is crafting paper stars for decorations or gifts, something she learned from her German teacher.
“No one was doing it, so I thought why not? It’s a unique idea,” Ellen said. She sells the origami pieces at events such as the neighborhood picnic and parade. Though she’s saving most of the money, some of it will fund riding apparel and maybe a grooming brush for when she takes horseback riding lessons.
Robin’s Nest features high school junior Robin Lee who crafts pop-up greeting cards and light-up jars. She said she’s saving money for college, clothing and big-ticket items such as electronics.
Other “Biz Kid$” offer help with computers, tutoring, baby sitting, car washing, yard work and even baths for pets. There’s Soggy Doggy Pet Grooming, run by middle school student Mia Castillo, who will give man’s best friend a bath and grooming on the go. She’s also available to walk Fido around the block.
“The club is teaching them financial literacy,” Holditch said. “It’s bringing the parents and the kids together to talk about finances in an open and honest way.”
The Biz Kid$, as well as a few adult crafters, will offer their wares to the larger community at a holiday boutique from 5 p.m. -8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 at 8603 S. Terrace Road, Tempe.