IAITC ed manager, son make virtual learning egg-citing

Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Education Manager Chris Wyant and his 6-year-old son, Lincoln, are incubating eggs on their rural McLean County farm and sharing information and their experiences in a daily education video that will be posted about 10 a.m. (Photo by Audra Wyant)

Students, teachers and parents seeking a daily egg-ucational video for online learning will find information and a touch of humor at Egg in the Classroom, Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom’s (IAITC) new e-learning activity that launched Monday.

Chris Wyant, IAITC education manager, and his 6-year-old son, Lincoln, a kindergartener, are incubating eggs on their rural McLean County farm and sharing their experiences and information in a daily video that will be posted about 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.

The first lesson delved into the parts of an egg and the important needs for incubation as Chris and Lincoln set up their incubator and marked the eggs to ensure they’re turned. Wyant’s wife, Audra, served as videographer. The Wyant family welcomes future visitors by setting up the incubator in the guest room.

In addition, the family will learn along with their online audience as they hatch eggs for the first time. The family, however, has cared for laying hens on their farm.

“McLean County AITC helped us get everything we needed. (County ag literacy coordinator) Bridget Caldwell met me with supplies, and I started looking up information online,” Wyant said.

Around the state, some elementary classes were waiting to start their annual embryology lessons through partnerships between county AITC programs and University of Illinois Extension. Other classes had just started when Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered schools closed because of COVID-19.

IAITC swung into action to provide educators, parents and students with embryology information.

“At first, we thought about livestreaming (eggs in the incubator), but that’s not too exciting until near the end (when they hatch),” Wyant said with a laugh. “For some reason, I decided to volunteer myself to hatch eggs and bring in educational content. Our goal is to connect external resources to read as we go along.”

Lincoln, clad in an Illinois Farm Bureau cap, assisted with incubator set up and served as straight man when his father shared corny dad jokes. Wyant admitted writing his own comedic material, which surfaced memorable reactions from his son and proved kids can be their parents’ toughest audience.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Lincoln answered when asked about helping students across the state learn about hatching eggs. He also wanted other students to be “egg-cited.”

In addition to integrating agriculture into curriculum, the daily educational videos and new e-learning tools are serving another purpose for IATIC. “We can’t go visit schools, so we want to step up and have a presence,” Wyant explained.

To find IATIC new e-learning tools, visit beyondthebarndoor.wordpress.com. Click on the IL Eggs in the Classroom at the top of the page for Wyant’s daily video and information. Questions may be emailed via the contact link at the top of the page.

Wyant and his online students may learn another important lesson about Mother Nature. Sometimes, an egg doesn’t hatch. It’s a subject the teacher and father is keeping in the back of his mind. “In two or three days, we should be candling them,” he said Monday afternoon. “This is a first. I’m trying to keep expectations low. I’m hoping for the best.”