EXTREME CHALLENGE: 4-H students compete to build the best birdhouse

Published 9:09 pm Friday, November 22, 2019

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Each month, the Pike Liberal Arts 4-H Club members are challenged with a project. Little did they know their project for November would be one for the birds.

The 4-H project for the month was to build an eXtreme birdhouse and the 4-H challenge was to construct the absolutely best birdhouse possible.

Jennifer Barron, PLAS fourth-grade teacher, said there was no right way or wrong way to construct the birdhouse.  The projects would be graded on artistic awareness and knowledge of the materials.

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And, who better to lead the students in this project than a retired PLAS teacher/coach who is well-known for his expertise as a builder of birdhouses.

Barron and Thomas Hicks, the dad of Ridge Hicks, fourth-grade 4-H president, were in agreement that Dwight Ward would be an excellent advisor for the project.

Ward readily agreed to advise the 4-H’ers on building bird houses, from the ground way up, so to speak.

Ward visited Barron’s classroom and used the knowledge he has gained designing and building birdhouses over the years to advise the students on the how-to’s of building birdhouses.

“What Coach Ward said he wanted the students to know from the start that they didn’t have to go out and purchase materials to build their birdhouses,” Thomas Hicks said. “Troy is known for its dedication to recycling so Coach Ward encouraged the students to look around home for materials they could use to build their birdhouses.”

Hicks said, not only would the students learn from building their birdhouses, they would also benefit from a lesson in recycling.

Ward encouraged the students to consider their personal interests when deciding on a design for their birdhouses.

“I talked with them about the designs for their birdhouses, the materials they would need, and about the construction process,” Ward said. “I wanted this to be a learning adventure for the students and a lot of fun.”

Barron said Ward generated interest and excitement among the students.

“He encouraged them to be creative in designing their birdhouses,” she said. “He got them thinking. They realized that building birdhouses was an individual project that could reflect their interests and that there was no right or wrong way.

The students let their imaginations run free and the results were amazing.

On Friday, Ward was back at PLAS to visit the 4-H’ers in Jennifer Barron’s classroom. His builders hosted “Open Birdhouse” just for him.

The birdhouses were displayed and each student had the opportunity to share information about their eXtreme birdhouses.

Ward said he was eXtremely pleased with the creativity of the “builders” and also with the craftsmanship.

“I could tell they had put a lot of thought into the designs of their birdhouses,” Ward said. “All of the birdhouses were all different and the craftsmanship was very good.  Some of them had found good use for many things that could have been thrown away.”

The Extreme Birdhouse 4-H project will be judged and the winners will be announced.

Ward said the judges will have difficult decisions to make. Barron agreed that judges have difficult decisions to make as to who wins.  But, there are times when everybody wins. And, her students are all winners.