Livestock and food production promote hands-on learning

Green farm land with cattle in the foreground

Last spring, kindergarten and first grade students in eastern Iowa had the opportunity to explore the early phases of poultry production by participating in a school hatching program facilitated by ISU Extension & Outreach – Linn County and the Linn County Farm Bureau.

Grant proceeds from FCSAmerica were used to supply participating schools with classroom materials and hatching kits that included an automated incubator, cage, heat lamp and cross-curricular lessons and activities.

“The students were really engaged with the lessons as they learned about the egg-to-chick life cycle and counted down to hatching day.”
– Amy Schmitt

“During the 21-day incubation period, the students were really engaged with the lessons as they learned about the egg-to-chick life cycle and counted down to hatching day,” says Amy Schmitt, Linn County youth outreach educator. “They also identified the basic needs to grow a chick by monitoring the incubator’s temperature and humidity and practiced proper animal care once the chicks had hatched.”

Aquaculture Expands Environmental Studies

In Letts, Iowa, a similar project is exposing members of the Louisa-Muscatine FFA chapter to the economics and environmental considerations of commercial fish production.

The students recently assembled and installed a 300-gallon aquaculture tank in the school greenhouse. Adam Crews, Louisa-Muscatine agricultural teacher and FFA adviser, says the students have been busy preparing the unit to be stocked with its first supply of blue tilapia.

“Our class tests and studies water quality in aquatic environments, so it has been great to introduce a new hands-on opportunity for the students to monitor pH, nitrates and other water quality indicators while teaching them about the skills needed to pursue a career in commercial fish production,” he says. “Once the fish arrive, they will continue managing water quality and nutrient levels and they will also be responsible for feeding the fish and harvesting them when they reach maturity.”

Lessons from Farm to Fork

Aquaculture-based curriculum has been making a splash among classrooms in Nebraska, too.

As part of the Norfolk FFA Grow, Show and Know project, students are gaining hands-on experience raising tilapia, broiler chickens as well as hydroponic and aquaponic lettuce.

Students are also responsible for processing, packaging and providing nutritional information about the products before they are delivered to the Norfolk Rescue Mission.

“The project has been an enjoyable way for students to learn about the science behind food production.”
– Jonathon Anderson

“The project has been an enjoyable way for students to learn about the science behind food production,” says Jonathon Anderson, Norfolk FFA agricultural teacher and advisor. “And the donations made to the local mission have really opened their eyes to the realities of homelessness and poverty.”

For more information about our community involvement program, contact your local Farm Credit Services of America office or email community@fcsamerica.com.



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