There will be some new books in first and second grade classrooms in Barry County thanks to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Youth Development Grant. The purpose of the grant is to impact the rural community in a positive way. Jeremy Elliot-Engel, 4-H Youth Development Specialist for Barry County, met with the 4-H counsel to come up with the plan.
“It’s really something to see the kids at the counsel meetings get excited,” Elliot-Engel said. “It was their feedback that made the decisions. It was a case where the kids talked and the adults listened.” They had to figure out a community need and how to affect the community in a tangible way.
This year they are studying embryology. This is a week long project for First and Second graders where an incubator with eggs donated from Georges will be brought in to the class. The eggs are incubated to 19 days when they arrive on a Monday. They hatch on day 21, Wednesday. “The children learn about the parts of an egg, how it all starts. They get to see how awesome Mother Nature is and the birth process,” explained Elliot-Engel. The chicks get to go home with the students, or to the University Farm.
Ag literacy is one of the goals of the program. Three books by Gail Gibbons, Chicks and Chickens, The Milk Makers and The Vegetables We Eat, along with Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller will be placed in classrooms as a permanent part of their library. Elliot-Engel said there is a need for volunteers to read in the classrooms.
Acres of Adventures is a 4-H curriculum for after school programs but is a science based group of fun activities that relate to agriculture.
One goal is to have all the chickens hatched and the books in place by the end of December this year. If anyone would like more information, or to volunteer, Jeremy Elliot-Engel can be reached at the University of Missouri Extension office in Neosho at 417-455-9500.


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