Horizon Credit Union Turns Financial Education into an Oinker of a Scavenger Hunt

“Find a Pig, Win Big” teaches participants about key financial concepts by having them compete in a fast-paced hunt for a hidden piggy bank. Find the pig and you get to bring home the bacon – for yourself and for a local nonprofit.

Bancroft School teacher Aaron Kagan celebrates finding the Horizon Credit Union pig with Jennifer Hanson, development director of the ALS Association’s Evergreen Chapter. Kagan won $500, and chose the association to receive a $500 donation.

Bancroft School teacher Aaron Kagan found a pig on campus.

He didn’t need to use his hog-calling skills. Didn’t need to tempt the porker with buckets of slop. All it took was a little help from his students, some clues from Horizon Credit Union and a working knowledge of budgeting, credit cards, the importance of saving and how to prevent ID theft.

Wait. What?

“The ‘Find a Pig, Win Big’ program teaches participants about key financial concepts by having them compete in a fast-paced hunt for a piggy bank,” says Alissa Munoz, Horizon’s relationship development representative. “The student or staff member who finds the pig wins big, and they also get to give back to a local nonprofit.”

So what does it take to “win big” and, uh, bring home the bacon?

Here’s how it worked for Kagan and his colleagues:

Horizon volunteers hid a blue piggy bank somewhere on the Spokane campus and provided posters containing clues for pig hunters to solve. In the fall, 55 Bancroft School students participated in the search; in March, it was the staff’s turn.

Clues on the posters led searchers to hidden stamps with secret words on them. When Kagan and his fellow staff members found a stamp, they had to recite the secret word to student “clue keepers.” If they got the word right, they were given worksheets to complete on financial topics that ranged from budgeting basics and understanding credit to savings and investing, ID theft prevention, needs vs. wants and more.

Completed worksheets were then returned to the students in exchange for the next poster clue, which led to the next stamp. The process repeated itself 12 times, with the last poster clue leading to the hidden pig.

A poster clue, passports, completed worksheets and the object of the whole hunt: a Horizon Credit Union pig worth big money to the person who finds it.

“The person who finds the pig wins $500, and they get to give another $500 to a local nonprofit,” Munoz says. “The student version is essentially the same, except the roles are reversed and students have to recite the secret word to staff members. Students win $250 and get to give $250 to a local nonprofit. Both programs have runner-up prizes.”

Kagan, who says the pig hunt was “a great experience for all our staff and students,” chose the Evergreen Chapter of the ALS Association to receive the $500 donation at a school assembly in April. (Horizon volunteers hold one assembly to roll out the program and another to congratulate the winners. “Find a Pig, Win Big” runs for four weeks, and all of the materials and prize money are provided by the credit union.)

“Thanks to Aaron for paying it forward,” says Jennifer Hanson, the ALS chapter’s development director.

“Find a Pig, Win Big” was originally developed by Horizon Credit Union in 2010 to teach personal finance lessons to students and staff, and the program has now been conducted in middle and high schools across Washington, Idaho and Montana.

A “Piggy Bank Hunt” kit is also available online through the Emmy Award-winning Biz Kid$ program. The kit doesn’t include hog-calling instructions or a list of ingredients for pig slop, but credit unions and schools will find everything they need to create a real oinker of a scavenger hunt.

Questions about this story? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.