The sophomore class of all girls from E.O. Smith’s Agricultural Education program recently raised and donated 45 chickens to the Access Community Action Agency. The class presented processed and packaged meat weighing over 250 pounds to Access Food Bank Coordinator Kim Brod-Houle. The Agricultural Education department applied for and obtained a $6500 “Living To Serve” grant from the National FFA Organization of the USDA. The grant supplied poultry feed, bedding, and processing materials.
The project lasted a total of four weeks and the students were fully responsible for feeding, watering and cleaning the birds as well as helping on the day of processing. “It is a learning experience that teaches responsibility and a true lesson in where your food comes from,” says Cynthia Chotkowski, E.O. Smith’s Agricultural Education teacher. “We raised 48 of 50 birds and the average dressed weight was 5 pounds at the end of seven weeks. The birds are a cross between a white Cornish and a Heritage broiler variety. We are very happy to be assisting in providing less fortunate people in the community with a high quality protein source,” says Cynthia. In order to be successful, the project included numerous parents, alumni and the 11 students from the animal science program. The program is designed with academic rigor and a hands-on approach to learning. Animal Science students learn about biotechnology, animal nutrition, livestock, dairy production, equine science, and participate in hands on experiences that include harvesting hay and raising and caring for animals.
The Access Community Action Agency is the federal and state designated anti-poverty agency for Windham and Tolland Counties. Access provides food, emergency shelter, energy assistance, energy conservation services, job and life skills training, youth mentoring, group homes, senior housing and more for low-income families and individuals. For more information about Access’ services, call (860) 450-7400 in the Willimantic area and (860) 412-1600 in the Danielson area, or visit www.accessagency.org.