‘New life’ lessons

Animal science class brings the farm to school with birthing center

Students in Danika Klaver's animal science class at Webster City High School are responsible for taking care of each animals’ needs in the birthing center. Above, students weigh one of the birthing center’s newest residents, Opal the lamb.

“I just think it’s great because of the hands-on experience. I can’t give them that in the classroom. I think kids need that,” Webster City High School animal science teacher Danika Klaver said. “If you want to go into the agriculture field in the future, you need to understand what you’re getting into. This is a great way with the experience and bonding. Students are really able to understand what it takes to take care of an animal.”

Students in Klaver’s animal science class are learning on a whole new level. Klaver’s class has been working with live animals over the course of this semester to

truly understand animal care and health through their birthing center.

The birthing center, which is housed in the school’s greenhouse, is comprised of a ten by ten stall with a sawdust floor to keep the animals comfortable.

“It’s pretty much just free open range in their,” Klaver said. “It works out really well because the kids can go in there and get things done.”

Two momma sheep currently reside in the birthing center with their lambs. One had two lambs roughly four weeks ago. The second, had twins just last Monday.

—Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Adri Sietstra LEFT: Students in Danika Klaver’s animal science class at Webster City High School are pictured with their newest birthing center animals, lambs. Lambs Ralph and Leroy were born four weeks ago and twins Opal and Eleanor were born last Monday. The birthing center is housed in the school’s greenhouse.

The sheep belong to Webster City High School ag instructor and FFA advisor Kurt Veldhuizen.

“The kids spend time taking care of them — feeding, watering, checking health, weighing them everyday, making average weight charts, finding out how much they should eat and then also do a lot of bonding with them,” said Klaver.

“A lot of these kids are city kids and they would never get this experience without something like this,” said Klaver.

Each student is responsible for the overall care of each animal. This includes coming in on nights and weekends to complete chores and ensure the animals are healthy.

“We’ve learned how to give them shots and things like that,” said WCHS sophomore Ashlyn Hay. “You really get a hands-on experience.”

“That is part of their grade too,” Klaver said. “It just gives them a little bit more of that responsibility of what it takes to care for a live animal.”

“We come in here and we have to fill up their food and water. Then we’ll give them two flakes of hay, said WCHS sophomore MaKena Keller. “We also make sure the babies are eating and their bellies are full.”

The sheep will remain at the birthing center until spring break.

When students return from spring break, Klaver noted that chicks and ducks with be the next to arrive at the birthing center.

“It just gives the kids a hands-on experience,” said Klaver. “They get to bond with animals. They get to perform the different procedures. They get to do all of that stuff.”

This is the second year students have worked with the birthing center.