Bunny love: Mulberry class learn from expert about new pet

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–For years, Mulberry fifth grade teacher Erin Elwood wanted a class pet for her students. “It’s a really good way to make real world connections,” she observed, as students can use the pet for science lessons as well as for the subject of math problems and writing prompts. Pets also teach students responsibility, as they take turns with important tasks such as feeding, watering, cleaning cages, and changing bedding. When Elwood learned from Mulberry Principal Stacey Olson that they could have a pet this year, she felt elated.

The timing worked out perfectly, as one of Elwood’s students, Jackson Moeler, had the perfect solution. Jackson had a pet rabbit at home, Clover, who he worried felt lonely when his family went to school or work. “She didn’t get much attention because we were at school, and we were thinking about getting a class pet, so we brought her here,” he explained. “I really enjoy it because I get to see her a lot now, and I’m glad because she gets a lot of attention.”

As Elwood’s class welcomed their new edition, one student’s parents put Elwood in touch with Mike Avesing, an experienced rabbit breeder and judge. Avesing started working with rabbits in 1966 and attended his first rabbit show in in 1969. At the time, all 4-H members needed to raise an animal, and Avesing, who lived in town, needed one small enough to raise in his back yard. He found he quite enjoyed working with rabbits and first licensed to judge them at fairs and shows in 1987. Since then, he has judged across the country, internationally in Japan, Malesia, and Singapore, and as the best in show judge at the National Association of Rabbit Breeder’s national show several times.

Sept. 12, Avesing visited Elwood’s class, bringing a rabbit of his own to show them and well as information about different breeds of rabbits. Through his talk, students learned more about their own bunny, a Holland Lop, and how to care for her. Avesing answered students questions, introducing them to how rabbit breeders raise and show their animals, general things anyone caring for a rabbit should do, and how different types of rabbits typically behave. Though Avesing has presented to many students before, he always welcomes the opportunity. “I love doing it!” he enthused. “I love working with kids and its a lot of fun.”

Students have enjoyed getting to work with Clover and learning more about the care and keeping of rabbits. “My family is into livestock and we’re into almost every animal,” shared fifth grader Bailey Danner: “It’s really cool. It’s really fun because we’ve never a a class pet before,” she said.

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