A teacher and his students weren’t sure what would make a wood duck box project successful for metal shop and nature lessons, but the learning experience is continuing with great results.
Students in Bill Steele’s metal technology class at Murray County High School were making wood duck boxes, but they were not certain that the boxes place in a natural spring on school grounds would attract any ducks.
“We did it to help the habitat,” said Steele, who teaches the classes at the school. “I didn’t know if in the middle of the city we would have any ducks. I thought we’d try.”
Steele, a duck hunter himself, said he was surprised to find out the box attracted ducks to the spring this year.
The area doesn’t lend itself to wood ducks. The spring is along Green Road just north of the school. The duck box sits in the middle of the spring on a pole. Wood ducks like to nest in hollow trees around water, but will also inhabit wooden boxes designed to attract them. Conservationists have begun placing duck boxes in wetland areas to increase waterfowl population to the area.
Building the boxes has been a good project for the students, Steele said. They sell them to the public for $60. The money goes into the school’s SkillsUSA budget to be used for student competitions and materials. SkillsUSA, formerly known as VICA, is a nonprofit agency serving teachers and students while helping them prepare for careers in trade, technical and skilled service. It includes areas of study such as welding, construction, health occupations and graphic design.
SkillsUSA has local, state and national competitions for the students, which can help them receive scholarships and jobs.
With so many people in the area interested in ducks — through hunting, the A&E television show “Duck Dynasty” and Ducks Unlimited, a wetlands and waterfowl conversation organization — Steele thought people would be interested in the habitat.
“I noticed you can draw more ducks to wetlands with these habitats,” he said.
The project also hones in on some much-needed skills for those seeking a career or wanting a hobby in metal works and construction.