As part of a national effort, St. Paul's is partnering this year with Purina Animal Nutrition on education and to provide supplies for the Community Garden chicken coop.
Kristin Horvath, with Purina Animal Nutrition, says backyard chickens are a new and exciting part of school curricula. Schoolyard flocks are used in active learning programs where students receive hands-on education. In addition to being fun for the classroom, backyard chickens help educate students on responsibility, biology, animal care and where their food comes from.
St. Paul's Community Garden underwent a major transformation last summer, including the installation of a chicken coop, garden beds, and composting area. Hens hatched in the Lower School science lab now live in the garden and are cared for by faculty and students.
St. Paul's got involved in the Purina Animal Nutrition program in 2016 led by the efforts of Lower School Science teacher Nancy Dimitriades and Middle School Science teacher Howdy Knipp. Using the Chick Flick by a Purina app, St. Paul's and other schools around the country shared videos of their chickens. For every video shared, Purina donated bags of feed to its coop to school network, to which St. Paul's belongs.
St. Paul's students from all divisions learn and work in the garden. Dimitriades explains that the surrounding community also benefits from having a schoolyard coop. "We have an educational organization here at St. Paul's called Bridges that brings motivated Baltimore City students to our campus and offers enriching, educational experiences to them," says Dimitriades. "Bridges' fourth and fifth grade students have built dust baths for the chickens, chicken swings and boredom busters."
To learn more about raising backyard chickens, visit www.purinamills.com/chicken-feed.