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Press: Turtles, snakes and lizards ... oh my!

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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on January 03, 2001 at 17:05:56:

Photo: Mishicot High School senior Jon Eis gets to spend the last period of the school day helping the ag department with the animals in Glen Schraufnagel's room, including Louie the iguana. Despite his love for animals and agriculture, Eis will study business in college this fall. Amy Weaver/HTR

HERALD TIMES (Wisconsin) 03 January 01 Turtles, snakes and lizards ... oh my! (Amy Weaver)
Mishicot: For the last period of the school day, Jon Eis doesn't act like a typical high school student.
During that time, the senior at Mishicot High School takes care of the animals in Glen Schraufnagel's room for Independent Ag.
"This is something that I've always wanted to do, something I've always enjoyed," Eis said. "And it's good to help out Mr. Schraufnagel. He has enough animals (meaning students) to deal with during the day."
Knowing the kind of guy Eis is, Schraufnagel added an ecosystem - complete with snapping turtles, red bellied toads, newts and various plant life - to his classroom this summer.
"He loves this stuff," Schraufnagel said.
"Jon has a lot of interest," he added. "He's always interested in education."
Seeing something special in Eis a few years ago, Schraufnagel heavily encouraged him to join FFA.
He said it would be good for him. And like helping Schraufnagel for the last period, it has been.
"It's taught me to be more of a leader because I'm used to stepping up and getting it done," Eis said.
So far the alliance between Eis and Schraufnagel has been good for the both of them.
Schraufnagel wanted the ecosystem as a teaching tool for his agriculture students.
"What better way to learn more than to work directly with the animals," Schraufnagel said.
Getting away from the textbooks and lectures is precisely what Eis really likes about his duties.
"This way is a more hands-on way of learning," he said. "It keeps me enthusiastic. I look forward to doing it."
This passion was instrumental in developing the ecosystem. After a little research, and a little trial and error, it worked.
But of the original animals, only the turtles are left. The baby newts drowned and the turtles ate the toads, Eis said.
"It's starting to make me realize why people don't like snapping turtles," he said.
Despite seeing nature first hand, Eis loves spending time with the animals because he can't at home. His mom Shirley won't allow pets.
So Louie the iguana, the snake, the three turtles, and all the fish are the closest he will get to pets of his own.
In a typical day, Eis is responsible for feeding all of them and cleaning the tanks.
He wasn't asked to, but Eis recently took it upon himself to develop a Power Point presentation on waterfowl identification.
It took him six hours to put it together, but he then gave it to Schraufnagel to use in class.
"It was worth the time. I learned a lot I didn't know about ducks," he said. "It sure made the test real easy though because I already knew everything."
Although he learned all about ducks from his own research, everything Eis does for Schraufnagel, he said, is a combination of what he has learned in all the ag classes he has taken so far - wildlife, forestry, and horticulture.
His responsibilities in Independent Ag have taught him about tasking and getting the job done - attributes he hopes will be beneficial down the road.
Despite Eis' enthusiasm for agriculture and animals, his future lies in business.
He plans to follow in his father's footsteps - James Eis runs Ice Implement in Two Rivers - so he will study business at North Dakota State University in the fall.

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