A unique program at Abbeville High School is getting students out of the traditional classroom setting.
That class is teaching them about agriculture and business.
Friday morning, one-by-one, students file into Mr. Theall’s agriculture class.
As they put their book sacks down, they immediately grab their boots and strap up.
The ag class started because the school had a problem.
“This part of campus doesn’t drain very well, and the principal here at the time asked what we could do with this and they said we could make a crawfish pond,” Shane Theall said.
Before students get into the pond, they learn everything from rice production to the life cycle of crawfish.
“Probably around the end of November we start running our traps, and we run them all the way through the end of the school year,” Theall said.
The crawfish pond is two acres with 60 traps.
“Instead of using a boat most of the year, we’ll actually walk the traps and take this one and pour the crawfish into this particular trap,” said Theall. “We then put it back down here, keep walking. We have six rows of crawfish traps.”
Christopher Broussard is a student in Theall’s class. He said, “A lot of people think it’s easy to walk in water, but it’s really not. You’ve got to work out.”
The students all have different assignments. If they’re not in the water, they’re on the banks sorting the crawfish into sacks.
On average, the students fill two to three sacks per run. The school sells the crawfish at market price to area businesses and teachers.
Theall said, “I love this crawfish pond. I wouldn’t teach at any other schools simply because they don’t have a crawfish pond.”
The money is funneled back into the pond to keep the class going each year.
“It makes money enough where it pays for itself and raises money,” Theall said.
Maintaining the pond is a year round job. Students volunteer part of their summer to help out.
“Me, my dad and the other students, we plant the rice, and it comes up. We put the water, and then we fertilize it,” said Theall’s son Joseph.
Austin Trahan said, “It’s a good experience. Not everyone gets to experience stuff like this.”
The class also prepares students for life after graduation.
“It’s not only about working, but it teaches about financing and Future Farmers of America,” said Broussard. “We’re learning about putting money back into the farm to make more money the next year to hopefully make a living.”