Janice the ewe gave birth to twin lambs on as Sonoma Valley High’s ag students watched over Zoom. Jessica Hamilton (above) set up her laptop in the pen and offered live commentary and instruction on parturition for all 165 students in the ag program. The first-year teacher has brought innovation and enthusiasm to the challenging task of educating her students virtually. After attending Modesto JC, Hamilton got her B.A. at CSU Stanislaus. She holds Agricultural Specialist and Single Subject credentials from Fresno State.
And the lambs? Marley and Joey, Suffolk-Hampshire cross lambs, are thriving. Hamilton says their owner, student Maya Suazo (pictured), has done a great job working with the ewe and babies. The junior has learned how to give injections necessary for their health like CDT and tetanus. She now is letting them out to graze on SVHS pasture and making sure they are starting to eat some solid foods in addition to the milk they are getting from the mother. “Maya has worked hard to make sure both babies have been nursing and has kept the pens very clean for them.”
About the challenge of distance learning for agriculture classes, Hamilton has praise for her students, who “are very patient.” She explains that they are able to work at home with hands-on labs thanks to kits paid for by the Sonoma CTE Foundation, and adds, “They try really hard to treat each other like family, and our Future Farmers of America officer leadership team has cultivated a positive culture this year through their meetings.” Members are looking forward to planning FFA week, even if it is virtual this year. “Our students can teach us so much about how to adapt and I’m very proud of them.”