4-H volunteers from across the state — including (from left) Claire Slomski, Austin Livesay, Kevin Harris and Samantha Schonegg — staffed the Commodity Carnival at the Indiana State Fair. At the booth, youth could play a game to learn about the risk factors associated in agricultural businesses.
4-H volunteers from across the state — including (from left) Claire Slomski, Austin Livesay, Kevin Harris and Samantha Schonegg — staffed the Commodity Carnival at the Indiana State Fair. At the booth, youth could play a game to learn about the risk factors associated in agricultural businesses.

INDIANAPOLIS — The complications and risks associated with running a farm can be hard to understand, but volunteers at the Indiana State Fair worked to teach kids about it in a fun way.

The National 4-H Council and CME Group joined forces to bring the Commodity Carnival to 130 state and county fairs, including the Indiana State Fair. At the carnival, kids could play a game to learn about agricultural futures and commodity trading.

“The idea here is risk management is a pretty intense topic. It is pretty complex,” said Laurie Bischel, executive director of corporate marketing and communications for CME Group. “But what volunteers show you is a way to make it fun.”

Youth volunteers in 4-H staffed the Commodity Carnival. More than 100 kids experienced the carnival during the second weekend of the fair.

“It starts with this imaginary pig,” a pink Easter egg, explained 4-H volunteer Claire Slomski. “We’re going to put all of these things into it, all of the expenses a farmer would have while raising a hog.”

The expenses were written on slips of paper and put inside of the egg. Expense examples included facility costs and wages, health and nutrition costs and transportation and energy costs.

“The biggest expense is feed costs,” Slomski said. “It’s very expensive, and pigs eat a lot.”

After completing the process, kids weighed the egg, learned how much they needed to earn to make a profit and moved to the final station — the Pig-linko board.

“We’re going to take it to auction, as represented by the Pig-linko board,” said 4-H volunteer Kevin Harris. “This board represents the risk factors, many of which you cannot control when you’re selling your pig.”

Risk factors included bugs and parasites, inclement weather, health news, legislation, taxation and regulations.

Kids put their egg at the top opening of the Pig-linko board, and it fell to a random profit number. Some numbers were above the profit level, but others were below it.

The lesson learned was it’s not always easy to make money while farming. A blue ribbon was awarded to those who participated in the carnival.

“A lot of the kids that come through here are probably never going to raise pigs, but it’s still a really cool thing to teach them how to understand the market, how to invest, how to be knowledgeable and manage your risks accordingly,” Harris said. “Those are life skills.”