Spring is finally here and Animal Science students at Milford High School (MHS) are learning first-hand what that means on the farm. Last week, students had a surprise when they entered their classroom as one of the sheep they had been caring for went in labor. The agricultural barn is now host to 6 sheep and 9 lambs just in time for Spring.
A regular day in the Animal Science pathway at MHS is much more than reading in a textbook. In the earliest classes, students are expected to assist in caring for several animals including sheep, pigs and chickens. The animals are cared for as students learn the needs of each animal as they interact with them through the life cycle from birth until death.
Students were a part of the birthing process two weeks ago, as Animal Science teacher Judith Bruns delivered several lambs during class. “It’s the hands-on aspect that really makes the learning experience valuable,” said Bruns. “Seeing the ewe in labor and seeing the lambs pulled from the mother is something most kids have not experienced. They had a lot of questions.”
Bruns commented that a majority of the students in agricultural studies and the Milford FFA have no prior experience with life on the farm and maintenance of animals. As students have had progressively less knowledge about the agricultural industry over the years, Bruns believes that students of all focuses have a lot to learn about how much of an impact agriculture has on today’s economy and society.
Jaineil Johnson, a ninth grader at MHS, enjoys the hands-on experience he receives from his classes. “It was cool, [Mrs. Bruns] had to reach in and pull the lamb out,” he said. “I enjoy learning from seeing and doing.”Johnson states that he is looking into studying veterinary science as he continues his educational career.
McKenzie Vanvorst, a ninth grader at MHS, wants to become an equine veterinarian and believes her experiences are helping shape a strong foundation for caring for large animals. “It is interesting and something I have never experienced before,” she said. “You get more out of doing things yourself than just reading it out of a textbook. You not only learn what to do but how to do it.”
Over the next three years these ninth grade Animal Science students will learn animal anatomy and physiology, veterinary technology and how to run a animal-centered business. “We teach them responsibility and I believe that overflows into other areas of their lives.”
During Spring Break, students are still expected to care for their animals and will need to feed, clean and care for the animals they are responsible for. This care is also expected on weekends and over the summer. The only days off for the students are snow days, in which Mrs. Bruns asks students to stay home for their own safety.
“Students learn that they still have to care for the animals even with other things going on in their lives,” said Bruns. “If they want to go into a Animal Science profession they need to understand the daily needs for each animal.”