Junior Academy EAST Students Raise 4H Chickens

Junior Academy EAST Students Raise 4H Chickens
Posted on 09/24/2018
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The Junior Academy EAST Program (Education Advanced by Service and Technology) has set new standards in tying student-led technology and creativity to agriculture, Arkansas’s largest industry. A fully operational chicken coop is visible from the front of our #HSSD Junior Academy, thanks to the dedication of EAST students who raised the birds through the Arkansas 4H program.

Junior Academy EAST Facilitator Mrs. Aspen Ham became the Hot Springs Schools 4H Advisor last year, in response to a request from 7th-8th grade students to begin a 4H program for the district. Garland County 4H Advisor Linda Bates partnered with Mrs. Ham to explain the agricultural opportunities available through the program. Poultry and eggs quickly peaked the interest of eager students.

Mrs. Bates helped secure a donation of eggs and egg incubators. Students created an entire incubation station in the EAST Environment classroom, which is also packed with cutting-edge advanced technology equipment including computers and 3D printers. Mrs. Ham carefully worked with students to craft EAST curriculum alongside steps necessary to maintain the health of the eggs, and eventual health of and profit from full grown chickens.

EAST students maintained and kept a close eye of the eggs in the incubation station throughout the incubation period. During that time, they were also charged with developing a plan for the chickens as they grew, and an eventual business plan for the selling of eggs to HSSD staff and parents. When the eggs hatched, students were delighted to find that 34 of 36 hatched, which is a huge success for a student-led program.

“You should have seen these students become parents to the little chicks,” said Mrs. Ham. “Those birds would perch on their shoulders as they completed assignments from desks or in front of computer screens. They would sleep on their backs like babies while the students held them.. These students love those birds, and took the responsibilities of caring for them very seriously. I am proud of all of them for learning new skills, and spending time even over weekends and after hours to look after them,” she said.

Following the hatching of eggs, EAST students built a chicken coop near the school garden area at the HSSD Junior Academy. They used 3D printers to create improved feeders and waterers for birds. They worked to keep out pests like area raccoons. They used online programs to track bird data related to health, eating practices, and routine check ups for health and maintenance of the grounds.

“It’s been great watching them from being an egg to actually laying eggs of their own now,” says Junior Academy EAST student Baylee Lyles.

“My favorite part about having the chickens is getting to hold them and bond with them,” says another Junior Academy EAST student Sloane Nutt.

At the Garland County Fair last week, Junior Academy EAST chickens were prize-winners, taking home 11 ribbons as follows: 5 for 1st place, another 5 for 2nd place, and 1 for 3rd place. To receive ribbons, the chickens must be healthy in their body weight and overall appearance, correct and bright in color, and properly cleaned and prepared for showing by their owners.

Arkansas 4H programs are administered by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. Learn more about Arkansas 4H, here. Learn more about Arkansas 4H Poultry Program projects, here. Find out more about our #HSSD Junior Academy, here.
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