Curly-tailed resident a real-world lesson

Class pets are not unusual to schools. From hamsters to birds, pets have scurried and scratched in many classrooms. Students in Ag teacher Cory Scott’s class have a very interesting type of “pet”, a pig named Ms. Boots.
“The idea to have an actual pig as a project for my students came from my son,” said Scott.
Fifth grader Kennon Scott showed Ms. Boots over the summer in 4-H and became very interested in breeding pigs after he won with one of his pigs.
“He thought ‘why don’t we just breed our own pigs instead of buying pigs every year?’,” said Scott. “It’s kind of hard to argue with that logic, especially when your dad is an ag teacher.”
Scott could not just bring Ms. Boots into PHS overnight. The project had to have approval from the administration.
“I told Mr. Scott to go for it,” said Principal Todd Hitchcock. “Anytime we can do something different that gets kids excited about learning and incorporates technology it’s a good thing. The project has gone well so far and students who don’t have his class are interested how it turns out.”
With Ms. Boots being kept in the greenhouse, she is not visible to most students. Scott knew this was going to be a problem, but with integration of the chromebooks and more technology into the classroom, Scott had an idea.
“I decided to set up a webcam with the help of the media department. This way, students can watch her 24/7,” said Scott.
Ms. Boots has provided material for the two advanced life science classes.
“My students and I identified Ms. Boots strengths and weaknesses, and chose a mate that would accentuate her strengths and hopefully correct her weaknesses,” said Scott. “We narrowed down the choices to about three, and took those choices to a professional swine breeder, Brian Rosenbaum, for a final selection.”
Choosing a mate for Ms. Boots occurred two months ago, so she is now well into her pregnancy.
“Pregnancy is going well so far, and we have left the danger time when the pregnancy’s fate is still iffy,” said Scott.
The piglets are due in January.
“My hope is that we get a large group of piglets that are high in quality. I would also love for one of the students to buy one of the piglets and show them next summer in 4-H, maybe even have a class of just her piglets,” said Scott.
As of now no long-term decisions have been made about the pig’s future.
“We may keep her for next year, or one of her daughters, or we might sell her to someone who breeds pigs, or someone who doesn’t. There is still a lot of unknowns for Ms. Boots about what the project is over,” said Scott.
With so much interest in Ms. Boots, many are already asking if Mr. Scott will do this project again.
“We do some of the things we do with Ms. Boots with chickens in the winter and spring, but as far as next year, it’s still unsure. I know for a fact that my students will reflect on the value of this project, and hopefully get an appreciation for animals and how they help us to get our food,” said Scott.

Story by: Emma Walker

DSC_0159Senior Kylie Eickelberger refills Ms. Boots’s water dish. Photo by Matt Agan