Rapides Parish 4-Hers to hatch chicks at parish fair

Brandy Orlando, Brister, Lois E.  |  10/9/2015 8:38:22 PM

4-H sponsor Donnie Brister demonstrates candling to his 4-H Club so they can see which of their eggs are fertile and will hatch into baby chicks. (Photo by Brandy Orlando, LSU AgCenter)

4-H sponsor Donnie Brister and 4-H Club members set eggs in an incubator. The eggs will hatch during the Rapides Parish Fair. (Photo by Brandy Orlando, LSU AgCenter)

The pre-K class with teacher Stacy Ford at Oak Hill Elementary in Rapides Parish created the life cycle of chicken as their contribution to the 4-H incubator project. (Photo by Brandy Orlando, LSU AgCenter)

News Release Distributed 10/09/15

HINESTON, La. – For the past 26 years the 4-H Teen Leader Club in Rapides Parish has hatched eggs in an incubator for a display at the Rapides Parish Fair.

According to Lois Brister, LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Rapides Parish, the original hatching was done in an incubator borrowed from the AgCenter 4-H state office in Baton Rouge.

“Our 4-H junior leaders wanted an incubator of their own for our fair, so 26 years ago, the junior leaders and I built an incubator from memory based on the design of the one borrowed from the state office,” Brister said.

The Rapides Parish Fair is set for Oct. 14-18. School groups will be able to tour the Children’s Activity Center and the 4-H Barnyard Nursery. In addition, they can experience agriculture through hands-on education stations.

This year the incubator was “upcycled” by a 4-H alumna Liz Turner Manceaux, her husband, Michael Manceaux, and one of the original builders, Donnie Brister. Donnie Brister is now a 4-H Club sponsor at Oak Hill Elementary in Hineston. His 4-H’ers provided the eggs for the incubator.

“It’s amazing that we were able to restore the original incubator. It still has the original fan that we took from a broken refrigerator,” Donnie Brister said.

4-H’ers at Oak Hill set the eggs on Sept. 24, and it takes 21 days to hatch chickens. For now, the incubator is on display in the school hallway so all classes can observe the process. It will be transported around Oct. 11 to the fair, and the chicks are set to hatch on Oct. 14-17.

Science teachers as well as lower elementary teachers at Oak Hill will incorporate the hatching process into daily lessons. The pre-K class created life cycle of a chicken posters using hand prints.

“This is a schoolwide lesson,” Donnie Brister said. “We want all of our students to see how the cycle of life works.”

The incubator contains 178 eggs of different varieties, including Barred Plymouth Rock, Cochin, Black Asutralorp and Ameraucana.

Charlie Blumenstock, a three-year 4-H member, said his favorite part so far has been picking up the Ameraucana eggs and putting them in the incubator.

“The project teaches the students responsibility, and when you put work into something, it pays off,” Lois Brister said. “The students have really taken ownership of the project.”

Brandy Orlando

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