Saturday, April 18, 2015

Uno: The Lone Survivor

Throughout the poultry reproductive unit in Animal Bioscience, the students continuously reminded me of all the fun we could have if we had some little chicks in the classroom.  Finally, after days of requesting and hinting at the fact that they wanted some chickens, I gave in to the idea and broke out the incubator.  Ok, that's kind of a lie.... I was the one who had to convince the students that it would be fun but that's only because they didn't know what they had been missing...

I came in the next Monday with 3 dozen fertilized eggs from my aunt's farm (thanks again, Aunt Libby!) ready to put in the incubator.  With any luck, we would soon have 35 little chicks in 21 days! Notice how we were an egg short of 3 dozen... That's why high schoolers don't work in a professional hatchery... Because eggs are breakable...

As the 21 days went by, my students were becoming more and more interested in the hatching process.  One of the students, Austin, became like my second hand man in the process.  Austin came down each day, twice per day, always checking the incubator.  Each day, two different students were on what we called "chick duty" for the day to monitor the incubator and collect all of the appropriate data.  All seemed to be going well.
Poor Uno a few hours after hatching 

I, along with Austin, candled the eggs and determined that there were 12 or so eggs that we were sure had taken.  Not great, but we could live with a 50% hatch rate.

When day 21 came, we looked for any signs of pipping, or little beaks poking through the shell.  But there was only one.  Only one little guy that had started to hatch and, as it turns out, he would be our only one.

We watched the chick hatch for about a day until we noticed that something wasn't quite right.  It seemed as though he had gotten stuck and was no longer making an progress.  So at this point, it was either help him hatch, which is rarely in the chicks best interest, or he wasn't going to make it.

So throughout the rest of the day, I spent a lot of time at the incubator, moistening the chick down to try to continue breaking some of the shell away.  Finally, enough had been removed that the chick was able to break free. Being that he was the only one of 35 eggs to make it, we named him Uno.

Uno had a rough start to life and the trouble hatching was only the beginning.  His feathers didn't look quite right, his left wing is smaller than the right wing, and his legs didn't work well either.  Thinking that Uno wasn't going to make it, I purchased a few more chicks from our local Ag store so that way the student could still continue on with the project.

However, apparently friends were all Uno needed!  After being in with the other chicks for a few days, Uno has made great improvement.  His legs are working great, is feathers are fluffing out, and he is eating and drinking like a champ!

So I believe we can all learn a little something from Uno.  Despite a rough go in life, you can always count on your friends to pick you up when your down!
Uno is the little guy on the left.  Looking much better!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Visit Close to Home

Recently for my fourth visit to see a student's Supervised Agricultural Experience program, or SAE project, while at Greenwood, I didn't have to travel far from home.  In fact, I just stopped at my neighbors to meet Ethan while he was out for his evening chores.  Ethan's parents, Heather and Pete, were great blessings in my life these past 15 weeks.  It was because of them that I had a place to live while student teaching and not only was it my own place, but an adorable farmhouse!  But I digress...

Ethan is in the 8th grade at Greenwood Middle School and currently serves as a Middle School FFA officer.  Ethan currently keeps records on a Swine Entrepreneurship SAE for his first year in FFA.

I visited Ethan at his parents' farm, Brummer Farms.  The farm currently houses more than 100 ewes and raises various types of beef cattle.  Ethan is responsible for approximately 10 sows, which have, or are preparing to, farrow (so there were piglets everywhere!).  Ethan’s plan is to continue to raise all of the sows and keep two for showing and send 2 or 3 more to market.

Ethan has shown great involvement with the day-to-day responsibility of swine production.  Ethan has began a great SAE program that offers plenty of opportunity for growth over the next few years of Ethan’s FFA career.

As a point of improvement, I encouraged Ethan to continue to work to build his financial standings and keep his record books up to date.  However, being that this is Ethan's first year keeping SAE records as an 8th grader, it is easy to see that Ethan is going to go on to do great things; maybe even receive a state FFA proficiency award!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Kids Change the World

A little while back, I came across a YouTube Channel with a few videos.  The videos all stared a young man who goes by "Kid President".  I watched a few of the videos and was taken aback.  This kid was making profound statements about truisms of today's society that many of us are tempted to just overlook.  One of my favorite videos of the Kid President was entitled How to Change the World. Check out the video below.  

I think many of us might choose to keep scrolling when coming across a video or article with such a title, viewing this as a seemingly unreachable goal.  However, it was worth the watch to hear opinions on how to change the world through the young eyes of a child.

It made me laugh a little as I watched the video.  This kid was right, it's not about being the coolest or the richest or having the most connections, its about an attitude change.  It's about a contagious attitude change that fuels a chain reaction of new actions that lead to results.  I've got goosebumps over here!

But not just goosebumps from the video.  I've got them because I've seen the shift.  I've had the opportunity to see my students be those students who know what it takes to start a trend, who are "cool" to everyone without a second thought, who make a difference each day.

So while I had the opportunity to accompany my students to the Pennsylvania FFA's State Legislative Leadership Conference a few weeks back, I knew that they attended this event just thinking its part of what they do.  But what I saw was different; I saw six young individuals who were gearing up to change the world.

The whole purpose of this conference was to familiarize FFA members, who are by nature already cultivated leaders, with the legislative process so that they may soon be actively engaged citizens to fairly represent the agriculture industry.

They were engaged in conversation, actively participating in legislative simulation, just "doing their thing".  I saw them growing right before me but they didn't even know it.  To them, this is what they do.  They learn, they grow, they make a difference.

The Kid President got it right.  Its a change in the attitude, a need for forward thinking.  One of the greatest privileges of my student teaching internship is being a part of growing that mindset within my students, the ones who are the change.