Pennsylvania Credit Union Association

Pennsylvania Youth Ambassador Contest

Sara Newell
Erie Community Credit Union

2015 PCUA Youth Ambassador
  Contest Structure
  The State Finals
  Duties and Responsibilities of the Credit Union Youth Ambassador of PA
  Official Rules & Regulations
  Guidelines for Holding a Chapter Contest
  Chapter Participation Form
  Contest Brochure





The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) developed the Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania Contest in 1976 to help young people learn about the history, philosophy, and operation of credit unions. Participants gain experience in meeting and interacting with other people, and public speaking — skills that bring career opportunities. For more than 30 years, the contest is still opening doors to credit union careers.

The Youth Ambassador promotes youth marketing, as well as the benefits of the contest. They speak at Association-sponsored education sessions and leadership conferences, and attend chapter meetings and other special events. The state winner also serves as a role model to encourage young people to participate in their credit unions.


The concept of the Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania Contest has its roots in the 1960s, when the eyes and ears of our country’s citizens were focused on the high-spirited, commitment-minded younger generation. Across the nation, credit unions were taking a serious look at how they could better serve young members and gain their loyalty. As the average credit union membership approached middle age, youth came to be regarded as a vital resource.

The Youth Ambassador Contest of Pennsylvania began as the Miss Credit Union of Pennsylvania Contest in 1971. Five years later, credit union leaders took a hard look at the nature of the contest and decided that some changes were in order. In 1976, the first Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania Contest was held. Young credit union members, aged 17 to 25, were eligible to participate, regardless of sex or marital status.

Over the years, hundreds of young people have been involved with the Youth Ambassador Contest, in the process learning more about the unique financial institutions of which they are members. Many have gone on to achieve leadership positions in credit unions and chapters.

Contest Structure

The Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania Contest is actually a three-step process. Each participating credit union selects one candidate to compete in a chapter-level contest. Chapter winners, or Chapter Youth Ambassadors, compete during the State Finals, held as part of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s Annual Convention, where the Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania is named.

The chapters play a central role in the process. Each chapter must first decide to host a contest. The chapter then invites individual credit unions to select and send candidates to the chapter-level contest. Without chapter participation, young people from credit unions within that chapter cannot advance to the State Finals.

The State Finals

The Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania is selected each year during the State Finals, held in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s Annual Convention & Exposition. Each Chapter Youth Ambassador becomes eligible for the State Finals. From among the chapter winners, the judges select the new titleholder.

Contestants are judged by the results of a written examination, an informal meeting with the judges and a short oral presentation during the contest itself.

Judging the Candidates — The state-level judging will be based on the same criteria and valuations used at the chapter level: Credit Union Knowledge – 35%; Ability to Communicate – 35%; Personality – 20%; and Professional Appearance – 10%.

Written Examination — The credit union knowledge portion of the judging will be determined through a written examination. This portion of the State Finals should not be difficult for the candidate who is familiar with the credit union operation, history, and philosophy. The PCUA makes an informational mailing to all contestants in January, well in advance of the State Finals, so they can prepare for the written examination. All contestants are provided with the same materials from which the exam questions are taken.

Oral Presentation — Each contestant will be asked to present a short two-minute speech on a pre-selected credit union subject as part of the State Finals. This presentation will be given before an audience of persons attending the PCUA Annual Convention. The contestants will be provided with a list from which they may choose their own speech topic.

Contest Awards — The first-place winner receives a $1,000 cash prize. The first and second alternates receive $750 and $500 respectively.

Duties and Responsibilities of the Credit Union Youth Ambassador of PA

The role of the Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania will be an active one. The Youth Ambassador will take part in a number of PCUA-sponsored promotional activities, such as speaking at the Association’s conferences and speaking at chapter meetings. He or she may be called upon to attend various meetings or functions throughout the year.

To protect the interests of the credit union movement, all appearances of the Youth Ambassador as a representative of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association must be coordinated by and cleared through the PCUA.

The Youth Ambassador will be expected to speak for and to work for youth involvement in credit unions throughout the Commonwealth. He or she will have the opportunity to travel to several areas of the state, meet interesting people, and will receive significant personal recognition for the credit union, chapter, and PCUA. It will be a year of new friendships and personal enrichment — one not readily forgotten.

The Youth Ambassador will be expected to represent the credit unions of the Commonwealth to the very best of his or her ability in all official functions and appearances involved with the title.

Expenses — The PCUA will remain in contact with the Youth Ambassador and will make arrangements for attendance at events to which he or she is invited. Out-of-pocket expenses of the state Credit Union Youth Ambassador in connection with approved functions will be paid by the PCUA.

The Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania Contest is sponsored annually by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and its member credit unions through participating chapters.

Official Rules and Regulations

1.  Contestants must be at least 17 years of age and no more than 25 years of age by December 31 prior to the State Finals, held in conjunction with the PCUA Annual Convention in spring.

2.  Contestants must belong to a PCUA-affiliated credit union and must be sponsored by a chapter that has provided equal opportunity for all its member credit unions to participate in the competition.  Equal opportunity includes advance written notice of the chapter contest simultaneously given to all credit unions in a chapter area.

3.  Each participating credit union in the chapter-level contest may be represented by only one contestant. Each eligible chapter may be represented only by one contestant in the State Finals. If more than one contestant exists, a winner must be decided. For credit unions that have branches in other chapter areas or are associate chapter members, the credit union must participate in the contest of the home-based chapter.

4.  Chapter contests may be held between June 1 and December 31. Chapters must submit a completed Chapter Participation Form to the PCUA indicating that they plan to sponsor a contest. Chapters must inform every credit union in the chapter in writing that a contest will be held; the PCUA will notify credit unions at the chapter’s request. A copy of this announcement must be received by the PCUA in advance of the chapter contest.

5.  Judging at the State Finals will be based on the following criteria:

  • Credit Union Knowledge 35%
  • Ability to Communicate 35%
  • Personality 20%
  • Professional Appearance 10%

A portion of the judging at the State Finals will be based on a comprehensive written examination, and a portion on an oral presentation before a credit union audience.

6.  Individual credit unions and chapters may devise their own judging criteria or may use the State Finals criteria as a model. The criteria should include the candidates’ knowledge of credit unions. The credit union contest and chapter contest should give a candidate experience in speaking to an audience on a credit union-related subject, in preparation for the State Finals.

7.  If they so choose, individual credit unions and chapters may award prizes, cash or otherwise, to their youth ambassadors and alternates at the end of a contest.

8.  Each credit union will be responsible for its candidate’s expenses in connection with the chapter contest.

9.  Winners of credit union contests automatically become eligible for a chapter contest, provided all rules have been properly observed and the chapter has agreed to host a contest. Winners of chapter contests become eligible for the State Finals, provided all rules have been properly observed.

10.  Each sponsoring chapter must provide to the PCUA, no later than December 31 of the year in which the chapter contest is held:

  • A completed biography form and photo release form (provided by the PCUA) for its candidate; and
  • A print-quality color photograph (digital 300 dpi, jpeg, or minimum size of 4" x 6") of its Chapter Youth Ambassador.

In the case of a candidate under 18 years of age, a photo release form must be signed by the parent or guardian. Materials should be forwarded to: Credit Union Youth Ambassador Contest Coordinator, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, 4309 North Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110

11.  The chapter is responsible for expenses incurred in connection with the State Finals. Chapter expenses at the State Finals include:

  • transportation to and from the convention;
  • hotel accommodations;
  • hotel parking fees (if applicable);
  • meals; and
  • miscellaneous (should include some spending money for the candidate).

The PCUA will make individual room reservations for all contestants for the state finals.  Arrangements can be made for a spouse / guest / signficant other to attend, subject to approval of the chapter or sponsoring credit union (which is paying the bill).  The PCUA will not make reservations for family members.

12.  The winner of the state contest will hold the title of Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania (unless revoked for cause) for one year, until a successor is selected at the following year’s convention. Cash awards will be presented to the Youth Ambassador, First Alternate, and Second Alternate.

13.  Individuals receiving the title of Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania become ineligible to re-enter future contests.

All participants in the State Finals, including the first and second alternates, may not compete during the immediate following year. After skipping one year, participants in the State Finals may compete again for the title, after repeating the process of being sponsored by a credit union and a chapter.

14.  In the event that the Credit Union National Association, Inc. or any of its affiliated organizations should sponsor a regional or national contest, the Credit Union Youth Ambassador of Pennsylvania will be expected to compete as a representative of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association.

15.  If for any reason the Youth Ambassador should be unable to complete his or her one-year term, the title will be passed to the First Alternate. In the event that the First Alternate is unable to serve, the title will pass to the Second Alternate.

16.  Ineligible to participate at any level of the competition are employees and directors of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and its affiliated organizations, and members of their immediate families. Staff members of the Association and its affiliates are prohibited from serving as judges of any Youth Ambassador Contest (including Chapter contests) in the state.

Everyone benefits by participating in the contest, because it generates interest and excitement for members of all ages and demonstrates that credit unions are interested in the future of young people. It teaches young members about credit union history, philosophy, and operations. And, most importantly, it helps prepare young people for leadership roles in the credit union movement.

If you have questions, contact Michael Wishnow, SVP, Marketing & Communications, at 1-800-932-0661 ext. 5213.