Special to the Trail Times
The Outdoor Education Academy is the centre of attention at J.L. Crowe Secondary School since the second batch of ducklings arrived earlier this month.
This program, for grades 11 and 12, provides life-changing experiences for students through a variety of activities such as wilderness cooking, trip planning, and mountain navigation. The students also help out in the garden which consists of two greenhouses, one outside and one inside, and the community garden. A coop also houses the six new ducklings, which also teaches students about raising and caring for animals.
Teacher Colin Adamson decided it was time to get more ducklings before the end of the school year. He took the students on a field trip to the Quack Me Up! farm in Creston. The class acquired six new ducklings and saw cows, goats, pigs, and sheep in the everyday farm setting
“It’s a great educational connection piece to have. I don’t want to let that go,” said Adamson, who loves that the students are regularly engaging with the ducklings.
The entire program has been a school-wide project. Students have helped construct a coop, with a mural, for the ducklings, build planter boxes for the garden and maintain the plants throughout the year as well as harvesting everything for food classes and sharing the experience with the community.
Meanwhile, the Outdoor Ed students are enthusiastic and eager to care for the newest ducklings.
“It’s educational,” said Grade 11 student Sarah Grieve. “I think it’s great. I really like the whole garden and having the ducks. The whole idea is awesome.”
Another Outdoor Ed student, Aven Cosbey, enjoys learning about where her food comes from.
“(I’m from) a family of vegetarians, as a meat eater, I have to make an informed decision about eating meat.”
The students can’t wait to watch them grow and become a resource they can use to help the school.
Last week, the Foods portion of Outdoor Ed prepared a potluck lunch by harvesting last year’s ducks and shared with the school.
Most of the students were unaware that such a fate would await the ducks; however, the students from Outdoor Ed brought in the ducks for the hands-on sustainability of taking care and using the animals to learn about food sources.
Adamson explained that advertising that the ducklings are going to be harvested might put a bad spotlight on the class; however, if students asked, he would tell them.
“I’m not forcing people to watch me kill ducks. That would be sadistic to me, weird, and wrong.
“(They’re) not wild ducks, they’re domesticated ducks just like chickens,” he said, adding this is far better than thousands of chickens cared for by a machine, which is done at the industrial level.
The program invovling the ducklings helps the students understand how food sources work. He said using ducklings, which take 12 weeks to grow, offer a better educational tool than chickens, which grow in six weeks.
The Outdoor Ed class plans on harvesting these ducklings by June and getting new ones in September. Adamson said as the ducks grow, they overtake the community garden, which has prompted them to harvest the ducks before school ends.
Though this is educational for everyone at the school, a petition for saving the ducks is circulating online. The originator of the petition, who did not want to be identified, said the goal was to see the ducks sent to a farm rather than harvested.
Although the petition received a few groans from the Outdoor Ed students, Adamson was more than happy to address it.
“I was surprised that there has been more conversations and the best conversations because of this petition,” he said. “I think it’s been great.”
Caia Gagnon is a Grade 11 student on a work experience assignment at the Trail Times