Animal Science class overcomes the hawk


Chad Schmidt

After a hawk attack, the animal science classes rebuilt the school chicken coop.

Chad Schmidt, Staff Reporter

The chicken may not have come before the egg, but clearly came before the hawk.

Agriculture Education teachers Justine Ellis and Michael Johnson, along with many of their students, rebuilt the chicken coop over the summer after a hawk broke into it and removed the chickens systematically from the coop.

“Headless chickens around campus are not something students should be seeing,” Ellis said.

The hawk crashed into the old coop, breaking the wire fencing on top, allowing it to remove the chickens from the coop.

Chickens are some of the few animals legally allowed on campus for school purposes.

“Liability makes it difficult to house animals on campus,” Ellis said.

The chicken coop was rebuilt out of some of the materials from the old coop and new materials purchased using a grant from the PTSA.

Johnson hopes the new coop offers better protection.

“I can’t say for sure that it is hawk-proof, but we’d like to think it has a better chance of standing up to another hawk,” Johnson said.

The chickens are a part of a student’s project for the Animal Science class, and Ellis said the coop provides students with a “hands on” experience.

The first level class has a unit on poultry which trains students to care for and meet the needs of the chickens.

“Most students that we teach have never handled a chicken before,” Ellis said.

In addition, the FFA chapter has a Poultry Judging Team as a part of its competition.

“Using live birds to help the students practice selection and anatomy gives them a competitive advantage during the competition,” Ellis said.

One student in particular contributed to the resurgence of our chicken population.

“Claire Stewart received the first batch of eggs, incubated them herself, and they are the chickens in the coop today. She handles the caretaking of the chickens most days, with little added help from me on the weekends and when she needs it,” Johnson said.

Stewart liked best the chance to, “be there and see them hatch, as well as watch them grow up.”

Like her teachers, Stewart sees a competitive advantage to housing the birds.

Stewart said, “I wanted to grow our FFA and to allow other FFA members the opportunity of working with chickens in real life.”