Annie the chicken poses for a picture in the ARS courtyard.
It was a cool Wednesday morning in the courtyard, and Ugly Betty, Annie, and Alice three chickens at the Ann Richards School, were roaming around looking for food. They found their way to Ann Richards through a group of 6th graders working on a sustainable farm project.
“We were thinking of getting goats and chickens at first, but like we were the four main ones who were really excited about it [the project],” Amy Perea(8)said.
The adventure began in 6th grade STARS, when current 8th graders Amy Perea, Finn Offield, Amanda Macias Schreiber, and Ali Jensen were all put in a group. The initial timeline for this project was to get the chickens in March of 6th grade, but the planning took until March of 7th grade.
“Ms. Warner loved their project so much that she was actually able to take them to a competition called Think It Up and this was a challenge coming from many different schools,” said Ms. Read, the 8th grade PLTW teacher sponsor helping out with the chickens.
Think It Up is a large competition for grades 7-12 where students could pitch an idea for a project and then receive funding to carry it out. Contestants set up tables and pitch their projects to passers by. Judges circulate and select the finalists who would be presenting in front of everyone. After the lunch break the team was excited to discover their group was selected as one of the lucky three who would be presenting.
“We were the only middle school group and we weren’t even allowed to be there because we were 6th graders,” said Ali Jensen (8).
The presentation was timed, but the timer was nowhere to be seen. Amanda Macias Schreiber retells how they tried speaking fast as not to go over. Suspense was rising fast, while waiting for the judges decisions; In the end they won third place and $500. Another $500 was raised on gofundme, an online fundraiser. With their funds they built a chicken coop which they discovered in their research was not raccoon proof.
“…what they do is really gruesome actually, “ said Amanda. “So they’ll reach their hand in the fencing and grab the chicken’s neck and pull it through. So this is like a 6th grader area, so we don’t want them to like come out to find dead chickens, and also we didn’t want chickens to die.”
There are a lot of logistics, such as the type of feed, who will be taking care of the chickens, and how the coop was going to be made. Currently Ann Richards has one chicken coop which is perfect for holding our three chickens all donated by Karen Garcia, a woman from the neighborhood who heard about the project. They hope to expand and make a bigger coop, and maybe acquire some baby chickens after winter passes.
“Well we were thinking of making a group, it’s kind of like the [library]minions almost. Where we have a chicken crew, and they basically let the chickens out. They clean their cage check for eggs, because they lay eggs every 20 hours,” Ali said, while checking under a platform where Annie is hiding to see if she was laying any eggs.
The Chicken Committee would meet everyday after school and hopefully count towards service hours. These four ladies want everyone to have the opportunity to care for these chickens. You might be wondering what happens to the eggs? They are collected in a teacher’s refrigerator until there are 6 within a carton and the group takes turns taking them home. Later on members of the chicken committee might have the opportunity to take home eggs too.
“Or we can like give them to teachers if it’s someone’s special day like ‘Here happy birthday here’s an egg’,” Amanda said.
There are still some steps to be taken. Looking back there are lots of things that these ladies took away from this experience.
“The biggest thing that I’ve taken away from this project was just how much work was involved,” said Amanda.