- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

ACME, Wyo. (AP) - Pheasant hunters trekking into the fields can tip their hats to students at nearly 20 Acme area schools for their help in hatching hundreds of the 28,000 birds to be released this season around the state.

This year was the first in a new partnership between the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Sheridan-Johnson County Pheasants Forever chapter and local schools.

That partnership allowed Bird Farm Coordinator Darrell Meineke to significantly expand his education efforts on incubating, hatching and raising pheasants to be stocked on public lands for hunting. Prior to the start of the program, Meineke was able to loan a few small incubators to area classrooms for students to incubate and hatch pheasants.

Last year, members of the local Pheasants Forever chapter asked Meineke if he had any ideas for a project they could complete. Meineke had an idea, and the partnership was born.

Pheasants Forever purchased 10 incubators at $150 each to be used by nearly 20 classrooms, ranging from pre-school to high school, around the county. Students incubated batches of pheasant eggs, maintaining water, humidity and temperature, watched them hatch and delivered them to the Sheridan Bird Farm to finish their growth over the summer for release this fall.



Fifth-grade students from Tongue River Elementary headed to Acme to witness the release of 100 pheasants as a culmination of their work.

Science teacher Meg Maze said the program helps students understand wildlife and the possible fate of the birds they helped raise.

“It’s nice to see a bunch of them released, and we do know they’re probably going to be hunted because hunting is a big part of Wyoming’s culture,” fifth-grader Wes Beadle said.

Meineke said about 14,000 pheasants would be released from the Sheridan Bird Farm this year with more coming from a bird farm near Yoder, The Sheridan Press reported (https://tinyurl.com/nbrsm56).

“I want you to understand how historic our program is and also that it happens in your backyard,” Meineke said. Meineke also hoped the program would connect students with their food. “Anymore we’ve gotten our kids disconnected with where food comes from. A chicken isn’t born under a plastic bag, a steak isn’t born under plastic,”?Meineke said.

“In a hands-on way, they can see that this egg, after 24 days, becomes this chick that is raised, and taken care of and released for people to hunt for food and recreation. It grounds them and gives them opportunity to start questioning: what about chickens or cows or deer or elk?”

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Information from: The Sheridan (Wyo.) Press, https://www.thesheridanpress.com/

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