Victor School, Victor, Montana
2014 NAAE Region I Ideas Unlimited Award Winner
Agriculture teachers are known for their enthusiasm about trying new ideas in the classroom. From bringing in cannulated cows to analyzing soil samples from the community -- ag teachers are rarely short of innovative, hands-on ideas. When Kristy Rothe was the agriculture teacher at Victor School in Victor, Montana, she took innovation to the next level with the use of Dermestid beetles in her Wildlife Conservation unit.
Two years ago, Rothe purchased 1,000 Dermestid beetles from a local taxidermist. The beetles are known for their ability to clean flesh off of animal bones, so Rothe uses them to clean animal skulls and skeletons for use in her classroom.
"At first, my students were skeptical of working with the beetles and skulls, but as the years have progressed, they now look forward to it," said Rothe. "One of my students has even taken the beetles on as her SAE project."
In the classroom, Rothe uses the beetles to clean whitetail deer and elk skulls for measuring and scoring antlers. Students are even encouraged to bring in their own deer skulls to be scored for this lab, which incorporates the history of the Boone & Crockett Club and the importance of record keeping. Rothe also teaches her students how to age deer by evaluating the teeth in the lower jaw of the deer skull.
In addition to the laboratory experiences, Rothe's students use the beetles as a fundraiser for their FFA chapter. Once the beetles clean the skulls, the students practice their taxidermy skills by mounting them for local community members. Not only do the students gain another skill, but the beetles have another source of food, thanks to the community.
Rothe has enjoyed quite a bit of success by incorporating the beetles in her classroom. Her students are excited about their learning and the community supports the program. Thinking outside the box provides students with unique experiences that help keep our classrooms innovative and engaging and the students coming back for more.
The Ideas Unlimited award is sponsored by National Geographic Learning | Cengage Learning. For more information about this award and to learn about the other 2014 Ideas Unlimited award winners, follow this link.
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