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4- H Avian Embryology School Enrichment Project

The Issue

Animal Science projects have been a primary tool for instructing youth about the food production process in the United States. As fewer people are involved with agriculture for a living and more people live in urban rather than rural areas, the ability for youth, or adults, to have hands-on experiences in agriculture is diminished.

What Has ANR Done?

The Kern County 4-H Program secured incubators and supplies to implement an avian embryology school enrichment program. The McFarland Unified School District was contacted and a collaborative effort began to bring this project to three elementary schools in the district, Browning Road Elementary School, Horizon Elementary School, and Kern Avenue Elementary School. This school district was selected because of its student population. They have a high Latino enrollment which ties in with the goal of the UCANR 4-H Latino Initiative to involve more under-represented youth. A partnership was also formed with Foster Farms Hatchery to provide incubated eggs. The eggs they provided were incubated for 19 days. This allowed a better success rate of hatching and increased the chance that the chicks would hatch during the school week while students were in class. John Borba, 4-H Youth Development Advisor in Kern County, provided basic training to the teachers at each school site on avian embryology, development of the chicks, and care of chicks once they hatch.

The Payoff

Students increase knowlege and engagement

The eggs were delivered to the three schools and the students learned about chick development and were able to witness the hatching process firsthand. A total of 804 elementary students participated in the project, of which 789 were Latino. Both program evaluations and in-person contacts with the teachers indicated that this was an immensely popular program with the students and the teaching staff. Program evaluations indicated that the students showed increased levels of engagement, responsibility, participation, communication, cooperation, and knowledge of food sources. Nearly all of the teachers commented on the evaluation that they would like to repeat the project again.

Clientele Testimonial

Nancian Munoz, a teacher at Horizon Elementary School, stated, "The chicks and hatching experience motivated students to conduct research on chicken development and care. Students with behavioral issues were motivated to join the class and participate in lessons."

Rebecca Mendoza, a teacher at Kern Avenue Elementary School, commented, “It was a great experience for me as well, the teacher. I learned a great deal.”

“I learned that chicks chirp while they are still in the egg” – student participant.

“I learned that chicks hatch within 20 to 21 days” – student participant.


Supporting Unit: Kern County

John Borba, 4-H Youth Development Advisor; jaborba@ucanr.edu