Bald Eagle Area High School students were elbow deep in mixing bowls in their veterinary science class on Oct. 3, mixing various concoctions of pumpkin, egg, oatmeal and more.
It’s one of the last steps in a hands-on class project that started when the students began researching recipes. They’ve been involved every step of the way, except for the taste testing.
That part is left up to some lucky dogs.
Bald Eagle Area High School teacher Todd Biddle is hoping his veterinary science students will be more conscious about the things they put in their bodies — as well as their pet’s bodies — through the production of homemade dog biscuits.
“This program teaches students about the difference between farm fresh and processed foods, and it also supports local farmers,” Biddle said.
The students were given a rubric by Biddle outlining the necessary requirements of the Federal Department of Agriculture that they needed to follow, but they were given the freedom to come up with their own recipes.
“I have found when you let the kids take ownership for their work, you see the best results,” Biddle said.
Since the start of the school year, the students have been required to research different recipes, create labels listing all ingredients, bake the biscuits and create a marketing plan analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of their products that will be sold at several events this fall.
“I really like this class,” 10th-grader Rebecca Dean said, “I like hands-on activities, they’re really fun.”
The ingredients of the biscuits are all natural, and consist mostly of bacon grease, eggs, pumpkin and oatmeal. The students found pumpkin to be a great ingredient because it is easy on the digestive system of dogs.
After the students decided on their recipes, they had BEA teachers take home some biscuits to feed to their dogs. After their dog tries the biscuits, the owners fill out a survey analyzing how much their pup enjoyed the treat. Through this, the students were able to analyze the success of the different types of dog biscuits.
“For example, we found that our biscuits were at first too big of a treat, so we needed to scale back the size,” Biddle said. “All in all, we got great feedback and decided we will sell all the types of biscuits at the upcoming events.”
Even though this project has been fun for the students, Biddle said it’s academically beneficial as well.
“This project allows students to understand problems that can take place in the agriculture industry and why there needs to be FDA regulation,” Biddle said. “They also are able to practice marketing, writing and mathematics.”
Biddle said he could lecture about the topic, but it wouldn’t be nearly as effective.
“These kids are on-task and interested in what they’re working on,” he said.
More often than not, dogs are treated as part of the family. It’s easy for owners to assume that processed animal feed is safe, Biddle said, “but a lot of animal deaths can stem from mishaps associated with the processing of food they buy them.”
“Our biscuits allow owners to know exactly what they’re feeding to their dog,” Biddle said. “These biscuits are easy to sell because they are an inexpensive product and something owners can do for their dogs.”
The biscuits will be sold at the Bald Eagle High School “Fresh is Better Showcase” from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Friday and also at the Fall Craft and Gift Fair in November.