HudsonAlpha educators talk chicken with North Alabama students

HudsonAlpha's educational outreach team played a key role in Lawrence County's first Agricultural Initiative Career Day. The event was held Friday, April 13, in conjunction with the annual Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival and hosted by the Lawrence County School System.

Approximately 2,400 seventh through 12th graders attended the AICD, along with local, regional, and state leaders, and professionals from various agriculture-based careers. HudsonAlpha was represented by  Neil Lamb, Ph.D., Jennifer Carden and Madelene Loftin.

The HudsonAlpha team, with assistance from educators whom they had trained the night before, provided interactive lessons about DNA and cells. In all, they led some 500 students who extracted DNA from green peas, strawberries, cherry tomatoes and, in sticking with the festival theme, even chicken liver.

Students used various household soaps and enzyme solutions to identify which combinations produced the greatest yield of DNA for each food type.

"Students had to work cooperatively, comparing their results with each other and working backwards to identify the impact of a particular soap or enzyme," said Lamb. "There was a lot of scientific thinking taking place during each round of the activity. The event also gave us a chance to talk to a large number of science teachers from Lawrence County about the educational activities, field trips and opportunities for professional development that HudsonAlpha offers."

Other AICD highlights included a general session with guest speakers Dr. Tommy Bice, state superintendent of schools; Larkin Martin, Lawrence County cotton farmer; and Glen Zorn, assistant commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.