Students eager to raise ducklings as part of annual program for ‘life to bring to our cemetery’

Grade 1 student Marcus Cook holds a duckling at St. Michael Community School on May 12, 2023. The students chose two to raise at the school before releasing them in Memorial Gardens next month. -- Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

The faces of St. Michael Community School students lit up on Friday as day-old ducklings approached them, chirping and waddling in their pen.

The students picked two ducklings to raise for about a month, before releasing them in the Memorial Gardens cemetery south of Prince Albert.

“You give them food, you give them a cage, you give them water and toys. You can also give them your finger and let them nibble on it because it doesn’t hurt,” said seven-year-old Marcus Cook.

Cook was eager to pick them up, firmly holding one as it wiggled in his hands.

“They have a lot of claws,” he said, but “they’re cute.”

Don Cody, with Memorial Gardens, helps organize the duck launch every year. The ducklings are distributed between schools, daycares and senior homes.

“We just pride ourselves in the fact that we have life to bring to our cemetery,” said Cody.

“It brings children around to look at the ducks all summer and it really makes a difference when you have kids coming to the cemetery to visit,” he added.

“It’s just a way of showing the public that, really, it’s not the most scary place.”

The students and seniors are also included when the ducks are released in Memorial Gardens.

Cody said seniors are always invested in the project because many come from a farming background.

“They had pets at home, and ducks and chickens, what have you, so it makes a big difference to them that they see life like this again.”

Laura Olver, a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at St. Michael, said caring for ducks is a learning opportunity for students.

“It’s watching the life cycle of the ducks. They learn how to be gentle; they learn compassion for animals. It’s beautiful to watch the kids watch the ducks grow up,” she said.

St. Michael has participated in the duck program for nearly a decade. The grown ducks will be released on June 20.