Ducks hatch on the Hilltop to celebrate the start of spring


Credit: Jenny Canoni

A few days after they hatched, the ducks spent their first afternoon exploring the courtyard and enjoying the spring weather. Students gathered outside to watch them interact with one another in the outside world.

By Dylan Wade and Sydney Stoller

This spring, biology teachers Ms. Johnson and Ms. EK received duck eggs from Metzer Farms in California and hatched them with their classes in order to teach students about animal behaviors. Five years ago Ms. Johnson saw her daughter’s fascination with the chicks that her preschool hatched, and thought that her students would be interested in this project as well. She pitched the idea to Ms. EK who was enthusiastic, and they immediately went to a class sponsored by the 4-H extension service. This program provides hands-on activities for students to learn about health, science, and agriculture. Although it has since shut down, 4-H had a program to teach about and take care of ducks. It was at this conference that Ms. Johnson and Ms. EK learned how to run an incubator and properly house ducklings.

This year has been the most successful for this project with a 100% hatch rate, while it is considered normal to have only 40% of the eggs hatch. These twelve ducklings have allowed biology students to learn about animal life through the daily observation of the duckling’s behavior and the weekly duck worksheets that they receive. However, the addition of these animals into the Hackley community do not only benefit the biology students.  Because Ms. Johnson allows students from kindergarten to twelfth grade to visit the ducks during their free time, she has brought the community together. Johnson states along with teaching her students valuable lessons,  “It is amazing to watch life happen, from seeing the heartbeat in the egg, to the feet moving in the egg, to the hatching, and then watching the ducks go from not being able to walk to making a big racket in the classroom.”   

When school is not in session, seventh grader Colin Ives and sixth grader Liam Abraham act as duck sitters. With the help of Ms. EK and Ms. Johnson regularly checking on the ducks, the students ensure that the animals receive fresh food and water, and are able to get exercise. Although students will be sad to see them go, Hackley does not have the proper facilities to keep the ducks once they have grown up. In recent years either the 4-H office collects the ducks, or Ms. Johnson’s father takes them. This year, the ducks are being adopted by local families where they will be taken to a loving home.