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Members of Whitefish CU's current Junior Board of Directors

Grooming Future Directors

by Alana Listoe, MCUN

Montana credit unions have engaging programs, opportunities, and community efforts that focus on financial education for youth – not just in April for Credit Union Youth Month, but all year long. In 2012, Whitefish Credit Union decided to take a slightly different approach to connect with area high school students by starting a Junior Board of Directors.

A Bit About the Junior Board

Like Whitefish CU’s “Senior” Board of Directors, the Junior Board originally had seven members. Those members, who are mostly high school juniors, are recruited based on recommendations from their teachers. They don't necessarily have to be credit union members, but they do have to commit to attending regular board meetings and undertaking the required activities, which include writing articles for the credit union’s newsletter and organizing a community service project. 

Early on in their year of service, junior board members attend a meeting of the senior board to be introduced and see how a meeting is run. After that, the junior board meets twice a month for the entire school year. Those meetings are completely run by the students, although Sue Schenck, director of business development and facilitator of the junior board, does attend them. Each meeting, someone from the senior management team or the senior board of directors provides a 20-minute presentation on pertinent topics and then fields questions.

The Junior Board’s Impact

Schenck says the students have access to staff and other credit union volunteers. “They participate in discussions regarding important fiscal issues and are welcome to see into the world of finance from the perspective of those who are deeply and passionately involved." 

The program, Schenck notes, has also given Whitefish CU and its staff the chance to make lasting and meaningful connections with future generations. The junior board is active, and serving on it offers area youth first-hand insights into credit union operations and the credit union movement; it involves them directly in the credit union and their community; and it hopefully grooms future credit union directors.

Chair Amy Braig, like most on the junior board, is a high school junior at Glacier High. “I’ve learned so much through this experience, especially that there is a major difference between a bank and a credit union,” she said.

The final project this year is a family-friendly, 5K Color Run where tutus and superhero capes are welcome. The students have done all the planning, marketing, and solicitation of businesses for an event benefiting a local shelter for victims of domestic violence. “Working on the color run has helped me realize how connected the credit union is to the community,” Amy says. “It’s been so great to be part of an organization that has everyone’s best interests at heart.”

Whitefish CU takes its Junior Board seriously and, in return, the program has exceeded expectations. So much so, that the credit union decided to expand this year’s board (the fourth) from seven to 12 members so representatives from all four area-high schools could be included. There was no shortage of students eager to be selected, indicating that past board members have spread the word that serving on the board is a fun and valuable experience.

In fact, Braig says her time on the Junior Board has been so positive that she definitely sees herself serving on a credit union board of directors later in life.

For More Information

If you’re interested in finding out more about Whitefish CU’s experience and how the credit union supports its Junior Board, feel free to contact Sue Schenck. It might be worthwhile to explore how you coud implement it at your credit union.

Alana Listoe is the MCUN director of PR & Advocacy.

Resources

  • Sue Schenck, Whitefish CU Director of Business Development  and Junior BOD facilitator. Call her at 406-862-3525

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