|By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
TRENTON, Ohio — Operation Market Hog allows suburban Edgewood /Butler Tech FFA kids to have the hands-on experience of raising a hog for their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE).
“We have very few farm kids so the SAE committee designed the Market Hog program,” said Kellie Warner, Edgewood/Butler Tech FFA advisor. “It helps FFA members find a pig and a place to keep it and gives them everything they need to show a pig at the fair. The kids love having a hands-on experience with an animal and it has been a very successful program.”
Member Jeff Ha-zelwood explained that an SAE project “helps the kids get agriculture experience, getting on a farm and doing different activities.”
Hazelwood does not live on a farm but keeps his pigs in a barn at his home.
So why do all these non-farm kids want to raise pigs and be in FFA?
To have fun, to learn about their projects, and make money were the reasons cited by a group of Market Hog participants.
Zach Gillespie is going into his second year of FFA.
“I wanted to be in FFA because it sounded like fun. I chose hogs for my SAE project because I wanted to learn how to raise them,” he said. “I showed at the fair last year. The chapter helps us get our pigs and the supplies so we can start the project, and have somewhere to keep it. They walk us through all the steps and help us out along the way. When we got to the fair we pretty much knew what we were doing.”
Gillespie added that the worst part of the project was cleaning out the pen and the best was selling the hog and making money.
Zach Bush, whose grandparents live on a farm, is also a second-year Hog Market participant. Last year he made daily visits to the farm where his hog was kept to feed and water it and to walk it in preparation for the fair.
“We have to keep a record book,” Bush said. “It lists how much feed you buy, when you buy it, supplies like bedding, water pans.”
Corey Walker is a first-year FFA member but he got some experience helping his friends at the fair last year.
“It seemed like fun,” Walker said. “It seemed like we’d have a good time doing it together. It sounded like hands-on.”
Alan Bunger, another first year member, had never been around pigs. He also chose hogs “because it sounded like fun,” Bunger said. “My mom knew some people who lived on farms and I’d go and watch their hogs.”
Bunger added that he used to help his great-grandparents with a vegetable garden on their farm.
None of these students thought that the Market Hog project would have much effect on their eventual career choice. Warner found that interesting because, although their careers may not involve agriculture, they are consumers.
“I think this project is a good experience; they’re seeing how animals are raised because they’re doing it,” she said. “They are the people who in the future will need to know what agriculture is. Even though they may not have careers in agriculture, I think it’s very valuable for them to see exactly what is done on the farm so they have a different perspective and they are educated about it.”
This farm news was published in the Oct. 18, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.