Too busy to blog...
Apologies for the long silence! This time of year tends to be very busy, and I haven't had time to post any updates. So I'm using this beautiful snow day to catch you all up. Now, where to start...
FFA National Convention
5 agriscience students and both advisors traveled to Indianapolis October 24-27 for the 92nd annual FFA National Convention. The theme was "Just One", highlighting the effect that a single individual can have on the world. Students attended seminars on leadership, career planning, educational options, and skills development, networked with students from around the US, browsed the enormous Expo and spoke with vendors and college representatives, and shopped at the Convention Mall. They were also fortunate to score free tickets to the private Garth Brooks concert! I was pleased to see the students' horizons expand and their desire to participate in leadership and service develop.
Props to the FFA members: Instead of complaining bout the wait, they introduced themselves to one another, played games, sang and shared photos. These students really are a reason to be optimistic about the future!
Yes, I bought it.
Looking down toward the stage. Garth Brooks put on a great show, and thousands of students let him know it!
Meanwhile, back in the classroom, Luna kept getting bigger and bigger! Definitely pregnant and likely due the first week of November. Repeated checks suggested that she was likely carrying 3 kittens.
Veterinary Science at Gull Meadow Farms
A few days after returning from National Convention, the Veterinary Science class spent the day at one of our community partners, Gull Meadow Farms, performing fall hoof and veterinary care for the animals of the farmyard petting zoo. Students were responsible for organizing themselves, moving and restraining animals, trimming hooves, vaccinating, deworming and applying external parasite control for goats, sheep, alpacas, cattle, and miniature horses. Animal Technology students will return to Gull Meadow in spring.
Julia with an alpaca. Best way to warm up hands!
Students worked hard and completed care of all the animals before we had to leave to return to school. Ashleigh, our contact at Gull Meadow, fed us their amazing donuts and cider! A good day's work!
Michigan FFA Fall Conference and Teacher Professional Development
Just a short week later, we took a group of students to Lansing for the overnight Fall Conference. Lots of great information and resources for teaching students, and FFA members received training in running their local chapters effectively. Since students and teachers were in separate sessions, I did not get any good photos of the students at this event. I will try to do better next year!
Apparently my daughter's cat Buttercup feels the same way. She seemed unimpressed by my reassurances that it was only one night this time!
Less than a week later, the agriscience department participated with the rest of KRESA's EFE programs to help 8th graders from across southwest Michigan begin to consider careers, and to understand how their high school courses could help them explore and prepare for interesting careers. Agriscience students demonstrated canine CPR, led a seed matching game, and helped students identify animal equipment and veterinary instruments. This event is extremely high energy and has evolved into an effective way for future high school students to check out some exciting careers!
The day of MiCareerQuest (which takes place at the Kalamazoo county Expo Center at the fairgrounds), Luna went into labor. Surprisingly, she had her first kitten as I watched! She went on to queen (give birth to) a litter of 3 little orange cuties!
There's really nothing like snuggles from Mom!
Meanwhile, in the classroom...
Vet Sci students are completing their work with anatomy and physiology. In addition to their online study, they have built models of neurons and the nervous system, dissected sheep hearts and cow eyes, examined fresh deer lung specimens, and soon will be working with reproductive system specimens and dissecting kidneys. In addition, they are preparing for their first skills competition, which takes place on December 7 at KVCC. They will take a general knowledge test and demonstrate 2 veterinary skills; the top 10 placing students are eligible to compete at the State Leadership Conference in April! All of this activity is occurring while students also continue to provide care and socialization to the foster cats, and perform their original research projects.
Students also spent a day visiting Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, where they met with pre-veterinary advisors. These advisors help students understand how to meet the requirements needed to apply to veterinary school after completing their undergraduate requirements.
Wildlife and Natural Resources
WNR students completed their unit on climate change and alternative energy, and have moved into learning about plants. They learned basic structure, function and arrangements of leaves, then walked around Vicksburg collecting a specified list of leaves. They then made rubbings of 17 different leaf types and categorized and identified each. This project was followed by a look at tree diseases; students learned some basics, then divided into groups and presented information about specific tree diseases. They were then asked to apply this knowledge in a real-world situation and solve a problem. They will be moving into a unit on native and invasive plants this week, first using game play to understand the harms from invasive plants, then learning to identify invasive plants common to southwest Michigan.
Horticulture students have been working on plant structure and function, and have completed study of roots, stems, and leaves thus far. This week will be devoted to flowers and plant reproduction, and next week we will explore seeds. Each of these topics are covered by discussions and lab activities; this week students will be examining leaf sections under a microscope and dissecting flowers. They also completed the leaf categorization and identification exercise, using leaves from the plants that they are growing in the greenhouse. They continue raising some great-looking plants! I am seeing some cucumber blossoms, and even peas! We have beans climbing up twine, hanging baskets, and even some tree starts. And this week the last of the chickens will be leaving the greenhouse! (They do produce some great fertilizer, though!)
Independent Study student Michael separates seeds from two varieties of pine tree for a project
Animal Tech students have completed their unit on poultry and are working on cats. They are learning to identify breeds, normal anatomy, history of cats, cat care, handling and behavior. In addition to working with the cat foster program in the classroom, which provides wonderful opportunities to learn care, behavior and handling, students produce a cat care pamphlet and adoption guide, help develop screening questions for potential adopters, and build cat skeletons from various pasta noodles. Once this "cat"egory is complete, we will be moo-ving into dairy cattle. This unit will include a field trip to a local dairy farm, and multiple activities involving dairy foods: We make butter, taste milk samples, identify cheeses, and taste-test ice cream, among others.
My favorite student quote: "Do you know how hard it is to make a cat from scratch?!"
Up and coming:
We were looking forward to a visit from the FFA State Officer team today, but are glad that they're safely home on this snowy day! Hoping to re-schedule! We did have a record number of students complete the requirements for their FFA Greenhand Degree and put their green handprints on the wall in the classroom. They will receive their certificates and pins at our spring Banquet.
Instructors continue to meet with community partners to formulate improved opportunities for real-world student learning and career readiness. Scott Paquin is a regular greenhouse and horticulture consultant; I will be meeting with Master Gardener Sue Ellen Laine later this week in hopes of both tapping her expertise and organizing a community service opportunity for students to plant and tend flowerbeds in the village; John Kern at Paper City Development continues to provide open-minded opportunities for students to contribute to the Mill restoration project; and the Agri-Sciences Advisory Committee, comprised of members representing industry, education, students, and parents, will meet on December 3. In addition, a core group has committed to re-organizing our FFA Alumni chapter, which provides expertise, support and resources to our Vicksburg and KRESA South FFA chapters. We would also like to gratefully acknowledge recent donations from Culver's Scoops of Thanks Day and from Paper City Development. Their generous support has allowed several students to attend major educational conferences and leadership trainings that would have otherwise been cost prohibitive.
FFA members are currently preparing for Leadership Contests in such areas as public speaking, demonstration, ag issues forum and job skills. They will compete at Districts in February--we wish them luck! We are also encouraging students in horticulture and WNR to consider preparing for FFA spring skills contests. These students compete in such events as Forestry, Greenhouse crop production, Soil Science, agricultural communications, environmental skills, land conservation, nursery and landscape, tractor driving, etc. Please encourage any students you know to take part! We have already had students compete in the broiler (chicken raising) contest and the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education contest; congratulations to them on their hard work and learning!
Veterinary Science students will be competing at the HOSA Veterinary Science skills contest in December, and are currently filling out their surveys so that they can be matched to an internship in a veterinary clinic or other placement for second semester (starting at the end of January). We are incredibly privileged to have so many fine clinical partners who allow our students to observe and work with them as they explore what it is really like to be veterinary professionals.
We leave you with another glimpse of Luna and her kittens. They opened their eyes last week, and are beginning to be quite active! They will be named and examined this week by the students, and will be growing up before we know it!