Chickens Come Home to Roost

Based on historical documents, Minnie Chellberg first raised chickens in the late 1800s. Like her, we chose Barred Rock and Rhode Island Reds for their friendly demeanor, exceptional egg production and high-quality meat.

Based on historical documents, Minnie Chellberg first raised chickens in the late 1800s. Like her, we chose Barred Rock and Rhode Island Reds for their friendly demeanor, exceptional egg production and high-quality meat.

It’s early morning and Chellberg Farm’s newest residents are reluctant to leave the cozy confines of their coop—understandable, since up until a few days ago, they had spent most of their young lives in an aquarium.

The 17 poulets—8 Barred Rock and 9 Rhode Island Red—were born educators, hand raised by students in Bill Smith’s AgriScience class at Westville High School. They’ll spend the summer at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, providing lessons in food production and sustainability for Dunes Learning Center campers, as well as the general public.

But first they must conquer the chicken yard, where the tall grass is a new experience and formidable challenge for the flock.

“They’re still getting used to their new surroundings,” explains executive director, Geof Benson, as he urges them out the coop door.

Dunes Learning Center executive director Geof Benson hangs out with the new residents in the chicken coop’s fenced yard.

Dunes Learning Center executive director Geof Benson hangs out with the new residents in the chicken coop’s fenced yard.

Dunes Learning Center staff are taking turns caring for the livestock, which represent the first step in a long-term plan to revitalize and reimagine historic Chellberg Farm as a modern educational asset. School year programs and weekend workshops are planned, offering opportunities for the public to learn and reflect upon the interconnections between our food system, the environment, human health, and the impacts of their choices.

To learn more about Dunes Learning Center’s year-round environmental literacy programs visit our website or stop by our Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore campus on Saturday, June 11 for the 4th annual National Get Outdoors Day open house event. Information and free registration can be found at www.duneslearningcenter.org/events

Westville students and teacher Bill Smith, happy to see the chicks they raised in class make a smooth transition to their new summer home.

Westville students and teacher Bill Smith, happy to see the chicks they raised in class make a smooth transition to their new summer home.