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Albuquerque 4-H Team Places Third Nationally

LAS CRUCES -- A team of Bernalillo County 4-H members buzzed their way to third place recently in a national competition about life skills. Conducted like many college bowls, the contest was held in New York City and tested the teens' knowledge of health, money management, computer technology and food safety.

"LifeSmarts is just as the contest says, anything that the kids might use in their life as adults or teenagers," said Barbara Timmons, Bernalillo County program assistant with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "They study things like insurance, investments, automobile maintenance and other useful life skills."

Team members included Amber Carman, Peter Cook, Ryan Cook, Scot Hart and Leah Kipprath. Barbara Peterson and Judy Cook were the team coaches.

The annual competition is open to any 4-H club, church, school or other organization. New Mexico's state competition -- sponsored by the Attorney General's office -- is held in the spring, followed by the national contest in summer.

The Bernalillo County 4-H team has competed the past three years, but this was the first national placing. In the four months before the contest, team members studied educational materials, 4-H project literature and daily newspapers. They also practiced with real buzzers to improve their response speed.

The five-day competition in New York City also had a lighter side.

"The students managed to get in some sight-seeing as well," Timmons said. "They visited the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square and the Statue of Liberty."

The New Mexico Attorney General's office and several friends of 4-H donated money to help fund the team's trip. Many family members also traveled to the competition, which is typical in the family-oriented 4-H program, Timmons added.