CME presents Risk Ranch

August 4, 2014 12:00 PM

Any kid might be able to understand that food doesn't just magically appear before them, but how much can they tell you about how it gets there?

CME Group, in partnership with the National 4-H Council, is aiming to close this gap this summer by rolling out its new agriculture education app, Risk Ranch. The app is designed to show kids 8 to 14 what it takes to bring a steer to the market as they grow it for four seasons.

First, you create your steer and allocate five coins to feed, farm and medicine to grow it initially. You then receive a starting weight and value which determines your break-even price; the goal, of course, is to make a profit at the end.

The actual game starts from there, as you guide your steer down a plinko-style game board, trying to collect more coins and avoid "risk pegs," which represent the exogenous threats to a business such as sickness, volatile energy prices and food safety concerns. After the first season, you can buy "futures shields" with your coins that make you immune to risk pegs for a short time.

Once your steer has made it through four seasons, you take it to the market at a randomized price, hoping for a profit. This, along with the risk pegs, helps simulate the arbitrary nature of the industry, said Laurie Bischel, executive director of corporate marketing and communications for CME Group.

The app is based off a board game that Bischel and others had been taking to fairs across the country to promote agriculture literacy for kids. Teachers and parents kept asking how they could get the game in their classroom or at home, which prompted CME Group to work with The Ohio State University to create Risk Ranch.

Risk Ranch has had over 1,500 downloads in four weeks. It is available on the web, in the App Store and through the Android Market. 

About the Author

Thom is an editorial intern at Futures. He studies magazine editing, economics and sociology at the University of Missouri and will graduate in May 2016. You can reach him at