Embryology Teacher Workshop

Chick it Out is BACK for Spring 2021! Hatch chicks in your classroom with free embryology curriculum & resources provided by University of IL Extension STEAM in the Classroom.

Learn more about Chick It Out & register here. Registration deadline is March 19.

Teachers can earn 2 hours of professional development credit at the Embryology Teacher Workshop March 30th from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the U of I Extension – McLean County office at 1615 Commerce Parkway, Bloomington. Click here for Workshop Registration

If you have any questions about this program, contact the McLean County Extension Office at 309-663-8306.

Chick It Out Registration Deadline

Chick It Out! University of IL Extension offers a great hands-on learning opportunity for McLean County, IL students with the Chick It Out Spring 2021 Hatch!

Teachers can register to receive 1 dozen fertilized chicken eggs from the U of IL campus,  research-based embryology curriculum & all the supplies needed for a successful learning experience.

Incubators, egg turners, candlers and more can be checked out from the Extension office.

  • Registration: Tuesday, January 5 – Friday, March 19
  • Embryology Teacher Workshop: Tuesday, March 30th, 4 – 5:30 p.m. (For workshop registration, click here)
  • Early Equipment pick-up (optional): Tuesday, March 30th, 12:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Egg pick-up: Tuesday, April 6, from 12:30 – 5 p.m.
  • Chick drop-off: Friday, April 30th, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (The office is closed 11:30 – 12:30)

**Equipment/egg pick-up and equipment/chick drop-off is at the McLean County Extension Office located at 1615 Commerce Parkway Bloomington, IL 61705)**

Click here to register for the Spring 2021 “Chick It Out” program. Registration deadline is Friday, March 19, 2021.

IL “Eggs” In the Classroom

Whether you’re learning remotely or in the classroom, check out Illinois “Eggs” In the Classroom for daily videos of the incubation process!

Your students can follow the flock each day and learn from home!

Check out the complete playlist on YouTube:

Online Reading Materials:


Animation of Chick Development

Books to Read – set up a FREE account on www.openlibrary.org to read these online books for FREE for 14 days!

Pesticides on Your Plate?

What does a mom who makes pesticide recommendations for farmers feed her own children? Organic. Homemade. Conventional. Store bought.  I use it all.

Yes, I sometimes bought organic baby food. I bought it for the convenience of the pouch packaging. I bought it for the unique food combinations. I did NOT buy it because I thought it was more nutritious or better than conventional.

I am somewhat particular about the country of origin of the foods I feed my children. Any food grown in the US or Canada I am completely comfortable purchasing.

I will admit that I think twice when I see produce, particularly berries, from other countries and often opt not to purchase them. Berries have soft skin that can be easily bruised during transport and I am not as comfortable with the control measures for complex pest management strategies in other countries.  But, I obviously buy foreign grown bananas because they aren’t grown in the US.

My master’s degree is in Weed Science. I studied Herbicide Physiology and lots and lots of chemistry.  My master’s thesis involved glyphosate (aka Roundup). Yes, I sprayed it myself – gasp!

I studied the chemical structures of herbicides, how they breakdown in the environment and at what speed, which products should be used in what situations, and how the herbicides fit into the entire cropping system.

I am very comfortable the pesticides used on our food in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers chemicals after review of the pesticide ingredients, crops to be used on, the amount and frequency of use, timing and also how the pesticide should be stored and disposed.  They determine the risk of potential harms to humans, wildlife, and non-target species.

The EPA also determines a pesticide tolerance – the maximum amount of pesticide residue that can legally remain in or on a particular food. It takes generally 8-10 years from discovery to registration of a herbicide.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors and enforces pesticide tolerances in both raw and processed foods.  Meat, poultry and eggs are monitored and enforced by the USDA. Food grown domestically and imported food are both monitored for pesticide residues.

Bottom line – I trust the safety of the food I buy because I trust the science behind it.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Broccoli Ham Cheese Strata

Broccoli Ham Cheese Strada

Breakfast, lunch, brunch or ‘brinner’ (breakfast for dinner) this tasty egg casserole will be a crowd pleaser any time of the day. A ‘strata’ is a savory bread pudding-like dish and its name comes from the fact that it’s a dish with layers. A strata is also a great way to use slightly stale or day-old bread.

One flavorful ingredient in this recipe is ham, a cured cut of pork. Curing is an ancient practice – used for thousands of years to preserve meat long before the invention of refrigeration. From ancient societies and Native American cultures to Pioneer farmsteads, things like ‘salt pork’ and smoke houses preserved protein for the winter months. For a technical look at what curing is and how it works, click here.

I think one of my favorite things about this recipe is the texture – light, fluffy & delicious!


  • 12 slices bread (slightly stale is better)
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, cooked & drained
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup finely diced ham
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking dish.
  2. Cut circles out of the center of each slice of bread with a glass or biscuit cutter. Pinch a hole in the center of each circle to make a doughnut shape.
  3. Use scraps and crusts of bread to cover the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle ham, broccoli & onion evenly over bread. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Top with bread doughnuts.
  6. Whisk eggs and milk together until fluffy. Whisk in dry mustard.
  7. Pour liquid over casserole evenly. Flip doughnuts to make sure they are coated with egg mixture on both sides.
  8. Bake for about 50 minutes until top is golden and casserole is set (if you test with a fork, it should come out clean).
  9. Serve hot.

Note: photos show 1/3 recipe baked in a loaf pan

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