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Kenneth D. Bailey students learn career and financial skills with Illinois Extension and 4-H

A student leaning over the table and an adult helping them with their sheet.

DANVILLE, Ill. – Students at Kenneth D. Bailey Academy participated in a Welcome to the Real World Simulation on April 19, 2024. The simulation is the culminating event of the Welcome to the Real World Curriculum, a program developed by University of Illinois Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H educators. The curriculum is a hands-on experience that utilizes fact sheets to help youth explore careers and finances and make daily lifestyle and spending choices in situations faced in adulthood.

“Financial literacy is one of the subjects most requested by schools and community organizations,” says 4-H Youth Development Educator Mynda Tracy. “In today’s world, financial education is crucial, which is why there’s been so much excitement from schools, volunteers, and more that we’ve recontinued this program.”

“We were excited to start the Welcome to the Real World curriculum this year because we recognized that there was a need to provide our students with not only academic but also; real-life skills, including those financial literacy skills,” said educators Megan Mohr and Angel Oates. “Students were interested in learning about this as many of them are about to graduate and be faced with having to make independent financial decisions.  The Simulation was a great opportunity to apply what they have learned and see what it is like to budget and run a household.”  

In the Welcome to the Real World simulation, students assume they have completed the basic educational requirements for their chosen career, are employed, are twenty-five years of age, and are independent with no financial support from family or others. During the simulation, participants select a career or occupation they would like to pursue. After they choose an occupation, they receive a monthly salary for that occupation. They then proceed through the Real World activity, deducting taxes, determining a savings amount, paying a student loan (if applicable), and spending their salary on their lifestyle choices.

“I really learned that I had to put my needs before my wants,” said student Armarni Eaton. “I really wanted to go the clothing and entertainment tables, but I knew that I had to take care of my housing and utilities first.”

To learn more about Welcome to the Real World or other offerings from 4-H, contact Mynda Tracy at For more information about Illinois Extension, contact our office at 217-442-8615.

Photo Caption: Student Armarni Eaton (left) talks at the clothing table with 4-H Extension Program Coordinator Megan Stites (right) at the Welcome to the Real World Simulation at Kenneth D. Bailey Academy on April 19, 2024.

About Extension

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of the University of Illinois Extension and is administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, putting them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities, two times more likely to make healthier choices, two times more likely to be civically active, and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.