Sioux Falls ag students go hog wild for a sow giving birth in the classroom
Students at the Sioux Falls Career and Technical Education Academy welcomed 14 piglets to their ag classroom.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — There are some new members to the Sioux Falls ag classroom. The week of Easter, their sow, Dolly, farrowed, welcoming 14 piglets.
For students like Brody Stenger and Logan Vogel, this was their first experience with sow farrowing.
“You know, you never thought you would see something like that in Sioux Falls or even in school,” said Stenger, who is a junior at the CTE academy.
“It was very interesting, I have never spent a lot of time around pigs. I mean, I grew up helping my grandpa on the farm, but we were just small grain, so this was really eye opening, really different for me” said Vogel who is a senior.
Students were able to be there throughout the entire farrowing process.
“We just kind of sat and waited, and all the sudden it was just, she was ready to go,” said Vogel. “One came out and we grab them, we wiped them off and got them under the heat lamp and they started nursing, and it was just go, go, go.”
“When she had the first one it was just kind of crazy. It just kind of happened so fast, and then once we got going it got less exciting after the next one because it was like oh yeah, we’ve done this already,” said Stenger. “But it was still pretty cool.”
The sow is brought in by Pipestone as a way to get students interested in the swine industry and learn about the opportunities available.
“We want to stimulate the next generation of young people in ag that comes from all across the diverse urban areas as well as the rural areas,” said Sylvia Wolters, director of public relations for Pipestone. “Here at the CTE academy, we have the opportunity to touch students that are maybe looking in those fields that we can bring them into agriculture and into our pig farms where they haven’t had the opportunity before.”
This is a project that ag teacher Andrew Jensen has done with his previous ag classrooms, and it was a tradition he was excited to carry on with him to this new school.
“I am a big lover of the swine industry, so I started this farrowing project at my former school in Chester and did two years there, came to the CTE academy and this was one thing that we really wanted to give our students an opportunity to be a part of,” said Jensen. “Very few if any of our students have any ties to production ag, so I said this is a great way for them to see what it is like to actually be part of the swine industry.”
Giving the hands-on learning experiences are key to any ag class, but especially in classrooms where students aren’t exposed to agriculture on a regular basis.
“I love this project. I grew up on a farm. I raised show pigs with my family, so giving them a taste of what it’s like to work in production ag is something that I find very special,” said Jensen. “I think it’s also important for them to understand that their food just doesn’t come from the meat counter, that someone has to be there to help to help that product from the very beginning, whether it be a plant or an animal.”
“It helps us learn,” said Vogel. “I mean, Mr. Jensen can sit, and he can talk to us, and he can show us slides, but it’s a lot different than actually doing it. It gives you a learning curve.”
For students like Stenger who have an interest in possibly going into the ag field, this project helps to set them up for success.
“They really help me see what I might see in the future,” said Stenger. “You know, this might be something that in 20 years, who knows, maybe I will be doing something in this field or something like that, and it’s cool just to be able to experience something that you never know what you might go into and you might see something like this or something similar and it kind of gives you early on experience.”
The goal of the project is to show students where their food comes from and help them understand that no matter their background, they can be involved in agriculture.
“If they want to get involved in ag, there is a home for them,” said Wolters. “They need to find their special gift, and agriculture will take it from there and give them a home and a place to grow that opportunity.”
The students plan to name the piglets after their favorite Dolly Parton songs. The sow and piglets will stay in the classroom for around a month and then will be adopted out to a student who is interested in using the pig for their FFA career development project.