Ag in the Classroom

Local Farmers Hoping to Hatch Love of Ag with County 2nd Graders
Posted on 03/01/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Local Farmers Hoping to Hatch Love of Ag with County 2nd GradersNo gender reveals or showers are planned but before March is over, Weakley County will be experiencing a baby boom of sorts.

Last Thursday, Terri Brundige and farmers from each of the home communities dropped off a dozen fertile eggs for each of the 15 second grade classroom in the county. Having already gifted the classes with their own incubator, the stage is now set for hands-on learning.

The project, led by Brundige with the support of Weakley County Farm Bureau Women's Committee and president Linda Fowler, is made possible with grant funding from Tennessee Foundation for Ag in the Classroom. Fowler also serves as an educational assistant at Martin Primary, the first stop on the egg delivery journey last week.

Chicks are expected to hatch in 21 days and they will stay in the classroom a few days more so that the children can understand what came from the egg, explained Brundige.

“This whole process is so children can understand compare and contrast, life cycles, add vocabulary and math skills,” she added. “The incubators are on Celsius so we have a science lesson there, too.”

To ensure that the project was an aid in the classroom, Brundige consulted with Terri Stephenson, supervisor of Elementary Instruction, to identify the standards the experiential learning would touch on.

“They will learn so many things that they probably do not know, that even I may not know from having it in their classroom and getting to experience watching these hopefully turn into chicks,” noted Mary Margaret Chester, member of Farm Bureau Women and one of the deliverers of the eggs along with husband John.

“One of the purposes of the Farm Bureau is to promote agriculture, and we feel like, as farm families become more removed from the farm, it’s an opportunity for us to get in the classroom and teach children who will also teach their parents about the lessons they learn and give them opportunities to explore agriculture even though their grandparents may not have a farm anymore,” underscored John Chester, president of Weakley County Farm Bureau.

To make the project complete the teachers received incubators, eggs, brood boxes, hanging lights and bulbs, waterers and feeders, feed, bedding material, journals, work pages, hand sanitizer, crayons, flashlights (additional resource for candling the eggs), and the book, "Hatching Chicks in Room 6" by Caroline Arnold.

While the incubators included an LED light for candling, project organizers, concerned about the inability to darken the classrooms completely, included an additional flashlight to ensure the children can easily see the developing embryo inside the egg.

During candling, a bright light is used to see what is inside the egg including spider-like blood veins indicating a healthy egg.

“That is the most exciting part!” Brundige exclaimed.

Brundige is nervous about the viability of the eggs hatching and says she will be “ecstatic” if 50% of the chicks peck their way out of their shells. But she also knows that every aspect is a learning moment.

Danielle VanCleave, the second grade teacher at Sharon School, piloted the project last fall when Lindsey Parham, local chicken grower and a member of the Weakley County Schools staff, gifted her classroom with an incubator and guinea eggs.

“We set aside each Thursday to view our eggs by candling them. This interesting project also drew attention from the Central Office and the community. Everyone was amazed to see how these little eggs created such an environment of excitement and anticipation that led up to the day when we came into our classroom with three little wet keets (baby guineas) were moving around in their incubator,” VanCleave said.

While only three of the dozen eggs hatched, VanCleave said the experience continued to be a learning one as students opened the remaining eggs to see the various stages of development.

She called the entire experience “education at its finest” and proudly shares the assessment of one student who said, “This is the best day, ever!”

“Even those these students are in a rural area, they may not have experienced anything on a farm. So to be able to see chickens hatch in their classroom is an amazing experience,” said Tracey Bell, Martin Primary School Principal, in anticipation of the project.

Along with the grant monies for the purchase of the incubators and assorted items, the farming community has helped make the project possible.

Tyson Foods donated fertilized chicken eggs. TN Corn Promotion Board provided the printing for all the worksheets for the students. TN Soybean Promotion Board provided crayons (made from soy oil) and some source materials for the students. TN Poultry Association provided stickers and fact sheets.

Roxana Smyth of Close to My Heart Scrapbooking added decoration to all the students journals. Weakley Co 4-H will supply some additional materials for each student.

Delivery of the eggs involved farmers from each of the areas surrounding the schools. John and Mary Margaret Chester, Martin; Kenneth and Janice Moore, Dresden; Doug Rook, Palmersville, and Spencer Stewart, Gleason; Janie and Alice Ann Yeargin, and Ben Garner, Greenfield all took part in egg presentations to the classrooms.

“This will also give others a name and a face should they need information about our family farming that goes on in the county. We all want to know who grows our food!” Brundige said.

Second grade teachers from across the county are: VanCleave in Sharon; Robin Higdon, Kristy Jolley, Jennifer McClain, Sherry Hatchel, Carla Hutcherson at Dresden; Jess Hames and Brittany Morton at Gleason; Beth Ann Sawyers and Kimberly Laws at Greenfield; Nicki Moore, Kim Castleman, Rachel Cooper, Katie Fisher, Angela Sams, and Zann Wortham at Martin Primary.


Greenfield delivery
Greenfield -- (front row, from left to right) Raelynn Wheeler, Jesse Callahan, Paisley Elliott, Carter Stephenson (back row, from left to right) Ben Garner, Terri Brundige, Janie Yeargin, Alice Ann Yeargin

Greenfield delivery
Greenfield – Second graders from the classrooms of Beth Ann Sawyers and Kimberly Laws

Gleason delivery
Gleason -- (from left to right) Terri Brundige, Spencer Stewart, teacher Jess Hames, class and Doug Rook

Gleason delivery
Gleason -- (from left to right) Doug Rook, Brittany Morton’s 2nd graders, Spencer Stewart, Terri Brundige

Dresden delivery
Dresden – (from left to right) Robin Higdon, Principal Melanie Needham, Janice and Kenneth Moore with students and incubator.

Martin Primary delivery
MPS – (from left to right) Principal Tracey Bell; John Chester, president of Weakley County Farm Bureau; Zoey Hickey, Rebecca Juarez, Izick Bennett; Mary Margaret Chester; Terri Brundige.

Gleason library
Gleason second graders stand before the display librarian Amy Lawrence created in support of the project. Pictured left to right are Madalyn Jackson, Landon Aeschbacher, Antonio Torres, Ema Perry and Tripp McClure. 

Greenfield library
Greenfield librarian Judy Martin is supporting the project with a display of books that offers further reading on the subject.