Franklin County Ag in the Classroom is quacking up. Coordinator, Melissa Lamczyk, has just finished with the last hatch of the year. This last hatch was started before Easter break and finished the first week in May. Sesser-Valier’s second grade teacher, Mrs. Tiffany Petro, is concluding her second hatch of the year with ducks, she did an incubation earlier in the year where twenty-three baby chicks were hatched.
Thirty eggs were donated by Harrisburg’s Ag instructor, Rick Walter and we would like to thank him for the opportunity to have these nineteen ducks hatch in a classroom. This is Mrs. Petro’s second year of incubation with Ag in the Classroom, last year she had eighteen chickens hatch in February. She had expressed an interest at the beginning of this year for incubation of ducks and Melissa was glad to help.
Each time Mrs. Petro does a hatch she is very diligent in having presentations done in the classroom for students and following with themed learning and activities. The students learn all about incubation, growth of the embryos, life cycles and body parts. After the hatches were complete, the baby chickens or ducks, were displayed in the classroom for a few weeks for the students to observe and interact.
We also schedule a play date where we take the three week old babies to an open area and have the children form a circle where we then put the babies in the inner circle. We usually have to observe the chicks indoors due to winter weather, but we were lucky to have nice weather outdoors for the ducks.
Mrs. Petro provided a small pool so the students could observe how early a ducks natural instincts take over. The students saw how the ducks ate bugs and worms from the grassy area and observed how the ducks feathers repel the water due to the special oils their bodies produce. We had one duck who really liked to take a dive and swim completely under water. The students learn how to handle and care for the ducks. Of course, there’s a lot of quacking at first, but students and ducks get use to each other and things quiet down. The students also know they must wash their hands before and after handling these babies so they don’t spread germs or diseases.
The Franklin County AITC received a grant that Melissa had been awarded through Monsanto earlier this year and part of that grant gave us the opportunity to purchase some new and improved incubators for the classrooms. These incubators are more efficient and take less care during the incubation process. Due to differences in classroom construction these incubators aren’t affected by the air control in the rooms.
AITC hopes to have enough incubators by next year so that each school can share incubators between teachers. This has worked out for this year, but it was close getting all the incubation’s in before the end of the year. We hope there are more teachers who would like to include their classrooms in this process of learning about life cycles. Ag in the Classroom (AITC) is available to all age groups and schools in the Franklin County area.