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
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
“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.”