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Hoosier School Beef Project Draws National Attention

Hoosier School Beef Project Draws National Attention
Hagerstown FFA's school lunch project in Wayne County hits the big time.

You read here just a few days ago that Nathan Williamson, an ag teacher at Hagerstown High School in Wayne County, and his students were raising beef cattle to be used as beef for the cafeteria for the school later this year. The project will save the school money, but more importantly, will give students experiences to learn they wouldn't get otherwise, Williamson says.

Since then, the story went nationwide, viral more or less. A news service did a story on the project, and it's being passed around social media. However, there's still more to the story that you may only get here.

Related: 40 Years is a Long Time to Teach Agriculture

Class is in session: Nathan Williamson conducts his alternative energy class in the pasture around the water tank. The challenge was to figure a way to heat the water next winter without using a tank heater.

Williamson brought the class to the pasture one afternoon recently, but not just to get out of the school. He had a project in mind. He is one of a few teachers in Indiana this year teaching about alternative energy sources as an ag class. He had a project for the students.

"I wanted them to come up with an alternative way of heating the water next winter so it wouldn't freeze without using the traditional water heater in the tank solution," he says. "We just installed it recently, so we didn't go through a freezing winter last year. We hope to have these calves butchered and replaced and out here during the winter next year."

The students soon came up with ideas when they realized he was serious. One wanted to put a mirror in the bottom of the tank to reflect heat back up through the water. That idea bombed when someone else noted that cows would likely balk at drinking when they saw their own reflection.

Related: Indiana High School Will Raise Its Own Beef

Another wanted to put a greenhouse of sorts over the tank for winter. He was still figuring out how to let the cattle get in to drink last time we heard.

"It's an interesting class because it makes them think outside the box," Williamson says. "Who knows, they may come up with a workable solution!"

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