June 2015
Youth Matters

4-H Extension Corner: Chick Chain

  The Chick Chain project can help open doors for all kids by offering hands-on learning opportunities.

Alabama’s Chick Chain project is expanding to Florida.

Alabama has had great and growing success with the Chick Chain project since 2013. Now, other states are taking notice and adapting the program to their 4-H programs as well. Florida 4-H is taking on the Chick Chain project after seeing how beneficial and successful it was in Alabama’s 4-H program.

The Chick Chain project is a program targeted at Alabama youth ages 9-19. The goal of the project is for 4-H youth to learn poultry management skills, develop an awareness for business management, develop recordkeeping skills, contribute to a family’s home food supply and realize the pride of accomplishing goals.

The Chick Chain project has gained statewide recognition in Alabama, expanding from just a few counties participating to now almost a majority of the 67 counties taking part. Doug Summerford, the 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent who serves Houston and Henry counties, said the Chick Chain program gets both youth and the entire community involved.

 "[The Chick Chain project] truly becomes a community project as the show and auction draw spectators and bidders from numerous counties," Summerford explained. "I would encourage anyone interested in the Chick Chain project – youth, parent, potential show spectator, auction bidder – to contact their county Extension office and speak with the 4-H Foundation agent, county Extension coordinator or anyone on the county 4-H team."

The Florida 4-H has now taken interest in the Chick Chain project and has been in contact with Houston County 4-H agents, including Sheila Andreasen and Summerford, to learn more about the program and how it can be adapted to fit into Florida’s programming.

"We met in person with a Florida 4-H agent to go over the program in detail," Summerford said. "We shared how successful the program has been in our area. Based on the meeting, the Florida agent thought the Chick Chain idea could create additional positive youth-development opportunities while introducing poultry to new audiences."

Summerford labels his role in the Florida adoption of the Chick Chain project as "an information provider and encourager."

"As an Alabama 4-H Foundation Agent, my objective is to provide positive youth-development experiences for youth in Alabama," Summerford said. "I think it’s fantastic when we can join with other state 4-H agents to collaborate on programs that affect not only our youth but all youth. We’re doing a good job when we can help open doors for all kids by offering hands-on learning opportunities."

Summerford believes the Chick Chain program still has room to grow for both youth and adults.

"The program is fun, but educational, too," Summerford added. "I can’t tell you how many times parents of participating 4-H youth have said they’ve enjoyed the project just as much as their kids have. It’s not cheap to raise chickens the correct way, but all families I’ve talked with have nothing but great things to say about their experience with the Chick Chain project."

As for program growth across the United States, Summerford believes that more states will begin to adopt similar poultry projects after seeing the success of Alabama’s 4-H program.

"I think Alabama is leading the way with the Chick Chain project," Summerford concluded. "The Chick Chain formula is successful, and we keep getting better at it each year."

For more information about the Chick Chain project, please visit http://www.aces.edu/4-H-youth/AL4-H/resources/animals/science/poultry.php.

Emily Reed is with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.