Hooked on LifeSmarts: Meet Seth Woods
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Few people know LifeSmarts as well as Seth Woods. As a student participant (who made it to the National Championships of 2002 and 2004), a former NCL intern, and current LifeSmarts Program Consultant and NCL Board Member, Seth has been involved with the program his entire adult life.
Seth began his LifeSmarts career haphazardly; he took an online qualifying test in his Life Skills class, which he forgot about until he learned his high score secured him a place at the Kentucky State Finals.
“Our team only studied once (on the van ride down to the tournament in Lexington), but after that day I was hooked,” remembers Seth. “It sounds weird, but I didn’t even think of it as an educational experience at first. It was our chance to win a 4-day vacation, and it just so happened to make us better consumers.”
Eleven years later, Seth is still just as hooked as he was in high school. What keeps him coming back? “The world has a steep learning curve,” he explains. “I work with LifeSmarts because I believe in the effectiveness of the program, without it some of these kids would learn the lessons when it was too late—after they go into debt, after they mistakenly download a computer virus, after they’ve fallen for a scam, etc.”
Seth praises the many great educational programs aimed at teens, but he believes it’s the diversity of LifeSmarts’ content that sets it apart. LifeSmarts focuses on five key areas of consumer knowledge: personal finance, consumer rights and responsibilities, health and safety, technology and the environment. Within a single program year, teen participants learn about everything from buying a car to the dangers of undercooked pork.
“Let’s say a teenager is borrowing money to buy his or her first computer,” suggests Seth. “There are a lot of teachable moments from this event: using credit, comparison shopping, handling warranties, recycling post-consumer packaging, electrical safety, protecting yourself from hackers, cyberbullying, etc. LifeSmarts is the only program that brings all these lessons together.”
Amidst all the talk of consumer literacy and instilling teens with important life skills, it’s easy to lose sight of one very important point: LifeSmarts is FUN. The fast paced, competitive nature of the program’s quiz show-style format keeps the adrenaline up and the smiles wide.
Seth says of the live completions, “Wholesome fun seems to magically appear every time. There’s always a sense of competition but it’s not bitter. It’s educational but it’s not preachy. It’s the kind of place where complete strangers become instant friends.”
The annual LifeSmarts National Competition brings kids from all qualifying states to one city, where sister teams from Hawaii to Wisconsin meet each other, test their consumer savvy, and leave the competition with new friends spread across the country.
“I invite you to spend a few hours at one of our competitions,” says Seth, beaming. We have them all across the country and admission is free. I guarantee you will be hooked just like me.”
Check the LifeSmarts site for upcoming competitions in your area. When you get there, tell them Seth sent you.