Lesson Four: Stewardship Solutions
Grade Level: 3rd Grade
Time: 2 Days
Part 1- 45-60 Minutes
Part 2- 20-30 Minutes
Essential Question: How can we be stewards of Wyoming’s agriculture to benefit current and future generations?
Objectives: Students will:
- Identify cause and effect challenges of drought, grazing, and predators
- Identify the people who deal with those challenges on a regular basis
- Discuss the difficulty associated with being a steward
- Recognize that stewards play an integral part in Wyoming’s culture
Purpose: Students will understand that livestock face multiple challenges, and many people are involved in solving those challenges. This is accomplished through activities involving the challenges livestock face.
- 2 one-gallon jugs of water – (or juice if you would like to provide your students with a treat)
- 1 cup per student
- A whistle
- Coyote and Jackrabbit: Finding the Right Balance on the Range booklet (one per student) – (sources 1-4)
- Cause and Effect Assessment Pages
Suggested Teacher Preparation:
- Fill two one-gallon jugs with water (or juice).
- Find a space to play the tag game. A space the size of a basketball court works well.
- Make copies of Coyote and Jackrabbit: Finding the Right Balance on the Range.
- Copy Cause and Effect Assessment papers for students.
Science: 3-LS4-4, 3-ESS3-1, 3-5-ETS1-2 (Explicit), 3-LS4-3 (Practiced/Encountered)
Social Studies: SS5.4.1, SS5.5.4 (Explicit)
Math: 3.MD.2 (Practiced/Encountered)
ELA: 3.RI.3, 3.SL.1, 3.SL.2 (Practiced/Encountered)
CVE: CV5.2.3, CV5.3.1 (Practiced/Encountered)
- Canine Distemper – a contagious and serious viral illness that affects dogs and wildlife
- Drought – a period of below average precipitation which could result in shortages of water supply and/or soil moisture, and could result in shortage of grass/forage
- Ecosystem – everything that exists in a particular environment (an ecosystem includes living things, such as humans, animals, and plants, and things that are not living, such as sunlight and water).
- Overgraze – a situation where too much of the forage in an area has been eaten, causing a negative effect on plants
- Precipitation – the amount of water an area receives through weather, example: rain and snow
- Predator – an animal that preys on other animals
- Prey – an animal taken by a predator as food
Part 1/Day 1: Drought and Predators (45-60 minutes)
- Review the previous lesson. Say: “The low population and the large area of land are part of what makes Wyoming unique. We heard yesterday that our livestock needs to graze in a way that keeps Wyoming’s land healthy for future generations. We learned through our game that there are many challenges that our rancher had to face. What were some of those challenges? Why were they a challenge?” Have students share out these answers with the class, as a whole, in groups, or with a partner. Answers should focus on the idea of proper grazing with rotating or splitting up the land, so that it has time to rest and regrow. After letting the students discuss with each other, bring them back to a whole group discussion. Make sure to clarify any misconceptions.
- Say: “In the previous lesson, we talked about grazing challenges. Today, we will learn about two new challenges that ranchers and livestock have. The first challenge is drought. We are going to do an activity that will help us understand how drought affects livestock. Drought is a period of below average precipitation resulting in shortages of water supply and/or soil moisture and may cause a shortage of grass/forage.”
- The following activity should take 10-15 minutes. Place one gallon of water in front of the class. Give each student a small cup. Say: “Each cup represents the amount of water a cow needs, and the water in the gallon jug represents precipitation – the amount of water an area received through weather– that is available for a rancher to use for his/her livestock for the summer.” Pour water into students’ cups. Purposely fill the cups to the top, so that you will run out of water before all of the cups are filled. Say: “Unfortunately, the rancher did not realize a drought was coming, and he/she did not receive any more precipitation for the rest of the summer. The soil became dry, and the grass did not grow well. Without enough to eat and drink, the cattle could not gain much weight. When it was time to sell the cattle, they were not worth as much money because cattle are sold by their weight. The drought also meant that the hay the rancher had planted to feed his/her cattle in the winter didn’t grow well, so there was not enough for the winter months. During the winter, the rancher ran out of hay almost immediately and had to spend a lot of money to buy more in order to feed his/her cattle until the next summer when they could graze again.” Have students empty their cups before starting rancher 2 disbursement.
Teacher Note:This pouring exercise would be a great spot to include some work around the math standard about liquid measurement. You can talk through the measurements you are using as you are pouring the liquid into ounces within the cups.
- Display the second gallon of water. Say: “A second rancher received the same amount of precipitation, but he/she realized there wouldn’t be enough water during the anticipated drought for their cattle to drink, and that the pastures would not grow without more precipitation. To make sure that the cattle would not be thirsty or hungry, he/she chose to sell some of his/her cattle, so that they could be taken care of with the amount of water he/she had stored in a reservoir.” At this time, sell one-fourth of your cattle by having a fourth of your students sit down. They will not get water in their cups. Pour equal amounts of water into each of the remaining cups. Say: “The rancher figured out how much water was left for each week and kept only the number of cattle for which there was enough water. With fewer cattle on the ranch, they all had enough to eat and drink, so they remained healthy. The amount of hay the rancher was able to grow was enough to feed fewer cattle through the winter months, and he/she did not have to buy more.
- Next, ask the following questions for your students to reflect on as pairs or small groups. Afterwards, pull the class back together and discuss the answers to the questions before moving on.
EvaluationIn this task, students will be engaged in the higher order thinking skill of evaluation.
- “What challenge did both ranchers face?” Supplying their land and livestock with enough water and being able to feed their animals through the winter months.
- “Who do you think was a better steward of their water resources? Why?” The second rancher because they managed their resources more responsibly.
- “Whose livestock were better taken care of?” The second because they were given water EVERY day and they were able to eat successfully through the winter.
- “Whose land will be better prepared for current and future grazing?” The second rancher because they took care of the land and livestock by selling some of their cattle so that the cattle had enough to eat and drink without damaging the land.
- “When dealing with an issue like drought, how does it affect livestock?” It affects the cattle by not giving them enough water to drink and food to eat. It affects the land by not giving it enough water which enables it to grow and feed the cattle. It also limits the rancher’s ability to plan ahead and provide enough food for the winter months when the cattle aren’t able to graze. Cattle lose weight affecting their quality of life. Cattle are sold by their weight. If they weigh less, the rancher will get less money.
- “What possible solution could the first rancher have made to be a better steward?” Selling some of his/her cattle. Keeping an extra supply of feed in case there is not enough hay.
- Say: “Drought is one challenge that affects livestock in Wyoming. Another big challenge is predators. To learn about our predators, we’re going to play a tag game involving predators and prey. The prey in this game will be livestock, and they can be eaten. Predators are an animal that preys/eats other animals.” This is an activity that requires room to run. It can be done outside or in a gym. Create an environment for the interactions to occur. A space the size of a basketball court works well.
- Line all students up at one end of the court/area. These students will be the prey. Choose 2-3 students to be predators. Say: “Our prey are all sheep, and our predators will be coyotes. It’s lambing season. That means many little lambs will be out in the pastures. These lambs are still young, so they make a perfect target for hungry coyotes.” Choose students to be lambs. Have these students crab or bear walk to show that they are slower and younger. Say: “When I blow the whistle, sheep/lambs need to run from one end to the other without being tagged/eaten by a coyote. Any sheep/lambs tagged must immediately freeze and sit down, so that any other coyotes do not eat them.” Play a round of the game. Once all untagged sheep/lambs make it to the other side of the court/area, that concludes the round. These are surviving sheep/lambs that were not eaten by the coyotes.
- Gather the students back together and discuss what they noticed during the Predator and Livestock tag. Students’ initial response might be to get rid of the predators completely. This is a misconception, but let students believe it for the moment because it will be resolved with information from the next part of the lesson. Remain unbiased toward any conclusion that students come to at this point.
- Give each student a copy of the Coyote and Jackrabbit: Finding the Right Balance on the Range booklet. Have the students read the booklet either individually or in partners or groups. After reading the short story about predators and prey in Wyoming, discuss with students the importance of maintaining a balance between predators and prey. Say: “In the story, we saw that the coyotes didn’t only create a balance with the jackrabbits; they also created a balance between the jackrabbits and the rangeland. Every animal plays its own important part, and if one animal is taken away, it impacts all animals, trees, insects, rivers, soil, and plants. Knowing that there needs to be a balance of predators and prey, how can we adjust our tag game to protect the sheep while keeping the predators in the game?”
- Have a child assigned as a rancher for the next portion of the game. This rancher can tag sheep/lambs before the coyote, and those sheep/lambs tagged by the rancher get a safe passage to the “barn” where they sit on the outside of the tag area. This shows that the rancher has to be a steward and help maintain the balance of their livestock and the predators within their environments. In this variation of the game, there could also be another food source available for the coyotes to eat. Half of the students would be rabbits and the other half would be sheep/lambs. The rancher is still introduced to save the sheep/lambs, but this would show more of an equal balance between livestock and other species available in the coyote’s habitat.
- Another solution would be the idea of having some students act as sheep dogs to protect the sheep/lambs. If a sheep/lamb has a sheep dog with it, the coyotes are not allowed to tag that sheep/lamb.
- Ask: “After the first round, the class suggested that predators were a bad thing, and that we should get rid of them to protect our livestock. What happens to an ecosystem when all the predators are gone? Removing predators impacts a lot more than only livestock. The plants, other animals, and land can be affected by the loss of these predators. They play a big part in keeping the balance in our environment.
- Ask: “When the rancher entered the game, how did he/she help maintain that balance?” He/she protected the sheep/lambs from the coyotes.
- Ask: “How was the rancher a steward in this game?” The rancher protected the livestock while also understanding the importance of maintaining a balance by not eliminating all the predators. As a rancher, one needs to understand the importance of the other animals, land, weather, and plants around you. A rancher must have knowledge about all of these to be an effective steward. Say: “Think about what we have learned about grazing, drought, and predator management. Ranchers have to juggle many challenges in order to be an efficient and effective steward.”
Part 2/Day 2: Cause and Effect Assessment
Time: (20-30 minutes)
AnalysisIn this task, students will be engaged in the higher order thinking skill of analysis and evaluation by evaluating outcomes, judging rancher choices, and recommending solutions.Choose one of the Cause and Effect Assessment pages to use as a whole group example. Display the example for all students to see. Say: “Today, we’re going to examine the different causes and effects of challenges that ranchers face.” Read the cause aloud. Have the class decide if it is an example of good or bad stewardship. Have students discuss with a partner a possible effect for the cause. When finished, have pairs share out their effects. Record the different ones on the sheet.
EvaluationIn this task, students will be engaged in the higher order thinking skill of analysis and evaluation by evaluating outcomes, judging rancher choices, and recommending solutions.
- Pass out the rest of the assessment pages to the students. Either have students choose their own or assign one to each student. Have students fill out the effects for their causes.
- When students have finished listing the effects, collect the assessment pages. Bring the class back together and have them share the different effects they listed for each of the causes given. A way to add an extension to this activity would be to allow the students to develop their own causes with effects.
- Say: “Now that we have listed the cause and effects of these challenges, let’s brainstorm some ways that we could potentially solve these problems.” Potential solutions are listed below:
- Sell some cattle during a drought to keep your land and cattle healthy.
- Fence pastures and graze in a rotation in order for the land to rest and regrow.
- Balance the predator/prey population.
- Say: “Remember, all of these decisions impact future generations, so the actions we take have a direct impact on the future.”
Look over student responses on the cause and effect pages to check whether or not students understood the concepts.
- American Veterinary Medical Association. (2018). Canine Distemper. Retrieved September 20, 2017 from http://avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Canine-Distemper.aspx
- Knight, James E. University of Nebraska, Lincoln. (1994, January). Jackrabbits and Other Hares. Retrieved September 20, 2017 from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/icwdmhandbook/54/
- Cornell Wildlife Health Lab. (2016, November 4). Canine distemper. Retrieved September 20, 2017 from http://cwhl.ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/disease/canine-distemper
- Wyoming Game and Fish. (2017). Wyoming State Wildlife Action Plan pages III-7-1. Retrieved September 20, 2017 from http://wgfd.wyo.gov/Habitat/Habitat-Plans/Wyoming-State-Wildlife-Action-Plan