Students in Oregon High School’s Horse and Animal Sciences class are taking hands-on learning to a whole new level this semester.
Last year, the class, facilitated by OHS agriculture educator Jillian Beatty, helped take care of a pregnant sow (and its subsequent piglets) “loaned” by the family of a student. This year, students are caring for two goats and their offspring, known as “kids.” Last week was a big week for the goats, who each gave birth to two healthy kids.
On Friday, with local TV crews filming, students helped feed and care for the newborns, who attracted quite a bit of attention from OHS students not enrolled in the class.
“It’s amazing how many students I’ve never taught before are in my room today because the goats are here, which is fantastic,” she said with a laugh.
On a more somber note, both goats delivered a stillborn kid, which Beatty said is an important lesson.
“It’s a great opportunity to say this is part of life and it’s hard,” Beatty said. “For three minutes, you’re going, ‘Gosh, our first baby out is dead, I just hope the other one coming isn’t,’ and you don’t know.’
“It’s scary and it’s emotional, and that’s what farming is, but it was an awesome experience for students to walk through that process and watch them grow,” she added.
Beatty said she tailors the course curriculum to projects like bringing live animals into the classroom. Students are currently studying lactation and the stages of pregnancy of their pair of goats.
“We’re talking about how to change her diet if she needs to produce more milk, and how the kids’ diets change as they continue to put on weight, and what should we do if they’re not gaining weight,” Beatty said. “So you get a real-life perspective, and you get to ask these kids questions and start thinking through some of the problems, which is fantastic.”
And while she said students seem to love the class, her favorite part about the course has been hearing positive reviews from parents.
“One of my favorite things is when they say to me, ‘This has been the conversation around the dinner table for the last three weeks,’” she said. “Wow – a high school kid is coming home to talk about that. When I think about trying to give an educational experience, this is the stuff – I want this to be so impactful, they’ll want to share it with the people around them.”