A Peek Inside the Classroom: Mr. Rice’s AFNR Class at Bowers Academy
A classroom of combined 11th and 12th graders, seven students in total, sit quietly at their desks as they listen to Mr. Rice explain the lesson for the day: feed and water the cows, sheep, chickens, rabbits, ponies, and goats, milk the mama goats, bottle feed the kids. The students volunteer for each job, and then leave the classroom for the barns, because today, the Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources students at Bowers Academy have farm chores.
Emmy Clements, a senior, heads to the lower barn, stopping along the way to feed Barney and to give the pig a little pat. Once inside the barn, Emmy starts setting up the milking machine for the mama goats. There are three of them, and they are all anxious because as Emmy indicates, “This is probably the best time of their day: they get milked and fed a grain breakfast all at once.”
George Racolta, a senior, is charged with weighing out grain for the sheep. During this chore, Murphy the cow’s head appears through the door to say hello, and announce that it’s feeding time!! Murphy’s wish is granted, as Mr. Rice suggests feeding Murphy first.
Several other students enjoy feeding the goat kids. They are just a few weeks old but are bottle-fed to ensure they become more comfortable around humans. They will be expected to be around young children visiting Bowers Farm as they get older.
All of the animals have hay available to them throughout the day to graze upon, but certain animals get extra snacks. Maddy Clements, a senior, whose chores are in the upper barn, explains, “Most of our horses and ponies only need hay, but two of our ponies need medication, so they get an additional meal.” Maddy mixes medicine in with the special food and watches over the ponies as they finish the bucket feed.
Even though Mr. Rice oversees all the chores, the Bowers Academy students are very familiar with their jobs. Things go like clockwork as they tend to all the animals. Last but not least, the students use a QR code that links to Google Docs where they update everything they completed and anything they might have noted along the way. These electronic records inform the farm employees how the morning has gone.