MARSHALL - Marshall High School's new ag teacher Jason Kaare grew up on a farm and raised chickens for 4-H. When he was hired at MHS after graduation from the University of Minnesota he thought it would be a neat experience for the students as well but he didn't think it would happen in his first semester teaching.
"I'm very lucky the administration is so supportive of the ag program and doing things like this," Kaare said.
By things like this, Kaare means raising chickens from days old to full growth, butchering them, plucking them and on Wednesday, eating them in class.
Kaare said he conceived of the project, wrote up a one-page proposal, got approval from the administration the same day, and that night ordered the chicks online. They arrived in about two weeks.
"The post office called at five in the morning for me to come and pick them up," Kaare said.
Twenty-six chickens were raised by Kaare's animal science and intro to ag classes.
"To house them, I used the chicken coop from the farm where I grew up," Kaare said. "I took it apart and the students put it back together."
When the chickens were grown, Kaare's basic home and ag maintenance class helped with the butchering and de-feathering in the school parking lot. The chickens were dipped in buckets of hot water for about 15 seconds to loosen the feathers, plucked the old-fashioned way, then gutted and washed in cold water before being taken to the school's kitchen freezer. Four were taken out to cook in class Wednesday.
"We got the chickens about mid-quarter and started raising them," said Leo Zerr, a student in Kaare's animal science class. "We had to change their bedding every day and give them fresh water and food. Then once they got old enough, we butchered them, and now we're going to eat them."
The rest of the chickens will be sold to families of students and used in a silent auction by the FFA to raise money to defray the costs of the project.
Chris Seifert, a sophomore in the University of Minnesota agriculture education department, came down to shadow Kaare on Wednesday and learn how to replicate this unique educational project.
"I'm observing Mr. Kaare and participating in class," Seifert said. "I'm hoping to be an ag teacher as well and I'd really like to do this kind of thing. It's really unique for them to be raising their own chickens, butchering them and eating them."