Delmarva’s $3.2 billion poultry industry employs more than 14,000 people. Now, more than 100 students at a Greenwood high school are getting early exposure to the industry.
Poultry producer and processor Allen Harim built a mini chicken house at Woodbridge High School so students in the school’s animal science program can learn how to raise chicken for meat.
Animal science teacher Karen Breeding says it pairs well with some of the lessons she’s teaching her classes – like animal behavior. The hands-on experience will also prepare students for the workforce.
“Whether they’re going to work for Allen Harim or Perdue or Mountaire, hopefully they go through the production cycle here with the flocks of chickens and understand how they’re prepared and processed and why they’re produced the way that they are,” Breeding said.
Breeding says she’ll mix the 10-by-20 feet chicken house into various lessons with different classes each week. Students are already learning how to spot signs that chickens are or are not comfortable in the house.
The school's animal science program teaches 140 students across ninth through twelfth grade.
Former student Jordan Chelton came up with the idea last year. He originally wanted to convert a soccer goal into a chicken house. Breeding said the school approached Allen Harim for funds, and the poultry company was enthusiastic about a bigger idea.
In a statement, Allen Harim President and CEO Joe Moran said the company saw a chance to teach students how to be successful chicken growers.
“We hope this project will help ignite an interest in the poultry industry and help launch careers with Allen Harim or any of the poultry companies on Delmarva,” Moran said.
Allen Harim has filled the chicken house with almost 100 chicks. Once the chicks meet market standards, students will work with a local butcher to process them.