Country View: Jessica Lundberg – Egg Aid – Richvale, CA
Jessica Lundberg's family created the Egg-Aid program, allowing local school children to help gather eggs.
Radio interview source: Jessica Lundberg, Co-Owner, Lundberg Family Farms
Nestled in northern California is the Lundberg family rice farm. Jessica Lundberg says her grandfather started the farm in 1937.
Cover crops are grown on the fields before planting rice, and the fields become a prime nesting area for ducks. The Lundbergs struggled with how to save the duck eggs, yet get the rice planted in time. In addition to having crews and volunteers pick up eggs, they came up with the Egg Aid program, in which local school children come out to help gather the eggs.
Jessica says a long rope is strung between two ATVs, and coffee cans with rocks in them as noisemakers hang from it. The kids hold the rope, start walking slowly through the field, and shaking the rope.
"As soon as they flush a bird, everything stops," she says. "And the kids drop the rope, and they run forward to where the nest was. They teach them, now watch where she flies up from because then everybody starts hunting for that nest of eggs without stepping on it. And then once they find it, the person who's riding on the ATV has a whole stack of egg cartons strapped onto the ATV, and he'll get one of the cartons off and they'll go collect the eggs, and they'll put them into a carton."
The duck eggs are hatched in an incubator, and ducklings are raised until they are old enough to survive on their own. They are then banded with leg tags, and taken to a suitable habitat area for release. Jessica estimates they've put 30-thousand ducks back into the wild.
She says the kids get a hands-on lesson of how agriculture works.
"It also lets them see that these fields don't have fences around them, that when we talk about sustainability, and we talk about having to be stewards of the land, they need to see that," Jessica says. "They need to see that wild animals move in and out of these fields. And that's why water quality's important, the air quality's important, the taking care of the soil's important, because we're all sharing these resources."
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