Regardless of the age-old debate, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” one thing is certain- raising chickens is a big responsibility. One of the newest and most creative ways that some of our Florida 4-Hers are learning the importance of being responsible is through the 4-H Chick Chain pilot program.
This year, six counties in the Florida Panhandle partnered with Alabama 4-H to offer the Chick Chain program. The goal of this project is to help youth learn life and workforce skills while learning how to raise and show chickens. Thirty-six Florida 4-H members chose to take on the responsibility of raising 18, two-day old chicks from May through October. Over the course of the program, youth participated in workshops to learn how to care for their chicks, keep records of their project, and how to prepare their animals for a show. This past Saturday marked the culminating event of the project when youth participated in a show and auction in Ozark, AL. During this event, youth competed in a showmanship competition, record book competition, and poultry quiz. All three events counted towards their overall score.
Members also had a short course in entrepreneurship- they were required to meet with potential buyers and market their hens. Life skills were clearly present in every aspect of the 4-H Chick Chain program which aided youth in the further development of not only responsibility but also confidence, capability, and compassion. When asked about his experiment, Noah, a Holmes County 4-Her shared:
“Chick Chain is a great opportunity to learn about responsibility and respect for other people and animals. You get to raise 18 of your very own chickens for a couple months and then get to take them to a show with your fellow 4Her’s to compete for ribbons and money. You also learn about proper sportsmanship. I love it!”
Based on participant’s feedback, we will be expanding the pilot next year and making some exciting programmatic changes. Holmes County 4-H parent and club leader, Jewellyn Owens, was instrumental in developing the Chick Chain pilot for Florida because she saw the potential this program had to help youth learn valuable life skills while increasing their knowledge about agriculture. Jewellyn shares:
“My family Loves Chick Chain. It is a great program for children wanting to do a 4-H livestock program but their parents don’t feel they are ready yet or can’t afford the cost of the larger livestock. Chick Chain has taught my children respect, sportsmanship, caring for another living creature and responsibility. My children love seeing their chicks grow from 2 day chicks to full grown egg laying chickens. Best part is getting to eat their chicken’s eggs. I also feel it teaches them other aspects of life like record keeping, writing, leadership skills, financial responsibility all things that will help them years down the road.”
If you would like to help 4-H grow responsibility in your community (through this program or others) consider becoming a 4-H volunteer. For more information about becoming a volunteer, or to find out about next year’s 4-H Chick Chain program, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office. We are also looking for sponsors to help expand this program.
For more information, check out:
- 4-H Poultry Project
- 4-H Embryology Project
- UF IFAS Backyard Poultry Resources
- 4-H Poultry Barbeque Contest
- 4-H Poultry Judging Contest
- Information for potential donors or sponsors