VIDEO: Chickens Get Care From Young MRH Researchers
Past and present Maplewood Richmond Heights School District students recently released a new book about their experiences with the fowl.
Chickens who stay outside of the Maplewood Richmond Heights Early Childhood Center (ECC) get a coop and an orchard. They also get adopted, named and adored by scores of young fans.
It's part of the Seed-to-Table program, which the MRH School District started five years ago. Each campus has outdoor classrooms with features such as gardens, composting areas and worm bins aimed at teaching kids about sustainable living, program director Debi Gibson said. ECC has chickens, and MRH Elementary School soon will host its own fowl.
"The children feel very connected to the chickens," said Dr. Cyndi Hebenstreit, principal of the ECC. "Each class has adopted a chicken and they feel like they have ownership in this project. They know about their chicken, they know about the origin of their chicken, they've studied it. They can tell you different facts about the chicken."
Current and former MRH students have compiled their experiences with the chickens in a newly released book titled Chickenology: The Art and Science of Keeping Chickens. The 80-page book is available for purchase from the district for $25.
Specially trained high school students known as chicken stewards take care of the animals outside of school hours, Gibson said.
"The idea of this is to promote the chicken project, and the goal is to have 50 families have chickens in their backyard," she said. "And we have quite a few families that have already gotten chickens and have a chicken coop and have joined the project. "
One unlikely partner in the chicken program: Steak 'n Shake, which overlooks the chicken orchard. Gibson said she knows the restaurant's manager, and workers on break report back to her in the event that something happens over the weekend.
"It's just sort of a great way of connecting the community," she said.