Wilber-Clatonia ag educator Dusten Bruss displays a bearded dragon for students to see during class Aug. 28. 

Rabbits, tarantulas and a cockatoo bird named Sassy: these are just a few of the animals located in the newly constructed Lambert Zoubek agricultural building at Wilber-Clatonia Public Schools.

Classes were officially held in the new building this February, but it was short-lived because of COVID-19’s presence in the United States.

Still, that does not make ag instructor Dusten Bruss any less excited.

“The students love it in here, I mean, they get to play with animals, eat and utilize all this equipment,” Bruss said. “Classes are getting bigger and there’s a lot more enthusiasm (with this new building).”

The building consists of a classroom and both a live animal and meat lab. Bruss said the number of FFA members jumped from 55 to 89 this year.

W-C FFA chapter vice president Aspen Oliver said the meat lab is something she believes will help the chapter rise above all the rest.

“We get more opportunities meat-wise and butcher-wise,” Oliver said. “It’s helping people get involved and more of us to enter SAEs (supervised agricultural experiences).”

Both Bruss and Oliver agree support from the community is what makes the new building a success. Wilber resident Lambert Zoubek donated $1 million in spring of 2018 to make it happen. Not only that, but Bruss said all animals except the rabbits were donated or paid for by community members.

“Wilber is really good about being grateful, and I think they knew this is a big opportunity for us,” Oliver said.

Within the new facility, almost everything is hands-on for the students, whether it’s fabricating half a hog in the meats lab or giving vaccinations to goats and sheep in the live animal lab.

Bruss even recalled earlier this year when four sheep went into labor in the lab, all at the same time while he was out of state, and he had to walk some students through what to do.

Although the building is completed, Bruss has many activities and plans he can’t wait to begin, everything from landscaping ideas to planting fruit trees.

“I have lots of projects in my head,” Bruss said. “The wheels are always turning.”


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