4-H has been very busy for the last couple of months and one of the programs responsible for this increase in activity is Embryology.

Embryology is the study of developmental cycles. The biological development in particular that 4-H-age children study is that of chickens.

Our 4-H Embryology Program is school enrichment based, meaning it focuses on in-classroom study. Each teacher participating in the program receives a complete equipment kit, which includes curriculum and a training seminar with a 4-H professional to kick off the program.

Fertilized eggs are then placed in the incubator and the program cycle begins.

The children in each classroom spend the next two weeks candling the eggs and observing the changes each chick goes through in preparation to enter the world.

The final week, also known as hatch week, is an eventful time. The teachers prepare the incubators and brooders for the coming chicks and the children are able to take responsibility in caring for the newborns through feeding and watering cycles.

On many occasions, the students are able to hold and interact with the chicks as well.

There are so many advantages to this program. Not only do the students learn a biology lesson at a young age, they also learn responsibility and compassion. They also are able to experience a little piece of where their food they eat comes from.

Eggs from the store have very little meaning and many times are misunderstood until a child watches a chick come from the same looking egg. Everything about what that egg is truly for comes into focus.

It is an amazing experience for both the children and the teachers to witness.

If you are a teacher or a principal in an elementary school in Okaloosa County and are interested in implementing this University of Florida funded program into your school next spring, please contact Veronica Graham at the Okaloosa County Extension Office at 689-5850 or graham.v@ufl.edu. 

Veronica  Graham is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.