Why did the chicken cross the road? To go to high school.

At an early age, it is important to teach our children as to where our food comes from. This week, Bryan High School in Omaha was highlighted by the Omaha World Herald regarding their brand new chicken coop. As a member of the Omaha Bryan High School Ag Academy Advisory Board, I was delighted to donate my time to design and consult the teachers in building a chicken coop for their property.

Over 2 years ago, my colleague in the nonprofit Omaha Permaculture, Andy Waltke and I, approached Bryan High with the opportunity to help raise chickens in incubators for the kids to observe. After the first trial run with over 100 newly-hatched baby chicks, Bryan high had no choice but to find new homes through Nebraska 4-H as the school was not prepared to raise chickens themselves. On behalf of Omaha Permaculture and Douglas County Nebraska Farmers Union, I decided to push the conversation towards a permanent chicken residence on the high school premises.

After approaching school administration, the dedicated teaching staff at the Ag Academy was approved a location to build a chicken coop with an outer pen on the North East side of the school building. The site is thoughtfully placed underneath the protection of three Australian pine trees. However, there were some issues to address in it's site location. Unfortunately, the preferred location was a low spot that forms puddles during rains. As a solution, we moved the site a little bit more uphill and added more clay to build up the pen foundation; away from stormwater runoff courses. Placed on the North West side of the building and on top of a hill creates the situation to produce the full accumulation of prevailing winter NW winds as it careens around the school building. As a solution, I suggested a robust wood panel pallet/fence-side on the the NW corner of the outer chicken pen; while maintaining an open-air fencing for the sun-exposure sides. 

After some networking and outreach, the Ag Academy at Omaha Bryan High School was able to find a little bit of funding to purchase the coop and the materials needed to construct the coop and surrounding pen. In sourcing materials, I recall the only hangup was finding someone to approve a certain type of 'approved' clay for the foundation of the pen. Even though other construction projects were occurring on the premises, all clay was spoken for. Eventually, approved clay was brought to the site to build up the foundation that would keep the chickens dry from stormwater runoff.

Thanks to this Omaha World herald article, the rest is history. Click the Title for the OWH article.