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Encouraging young people to work in agriculture: around 36,000 chicks spread throughout Arkansas



Little Rock, Arkansas – A little over 36,000 chicks were given away to Arkansas-based organizations that encourage young people to get involved in agriculture. All of this is a component of the Poultry Chain Project of the U of A System Division of Agriculture.

1,929 4-H and Arkansas Future Farmers of America students were given day-old baby chicks to raise independently and support the state’s poultry sector.

“So Arkansas is a top producer across the country in poultry and so it’s a major economic driver for our state,” U-of-A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, Youth Poultry Instructor, Andrew Bolton said.

Hopefully, the more than 35,000 chicks dispersed throughout the state will cultivate a passion for agriculture among the future leaders of the sector.

“If they can develop appreciation in one area that can absolutely spread to others. And so you know.. Maybe that sparks a life long interest,” Bolton said.

A little under 1,800 birds were returned to two of the seventy counties included in the experiment by one agent.

“I enjoy it. I grew up in 4-h and I loved it. It was amazing and so just to be able to give back to the program to help the youth as they come up… It’s just a great opportunity and I love it,” U-of-A Division of Agriculture, Franklin Co. Agriculture Extension Agent/ 4-H Agent, Ethan Parker Said.

A flock of seventeen chicks each was given to each student to raise independently for several months. The top three birds from each flock were then selected to compete in the State Fair.
Today, Kylie Ross picked up newborn chicks; her family is from an agricultural background.

“My grandpa owned a farm and my great grandpa owned a farm and it’s just a really important part of our family,” Ross said. “You have to go. You have to feed, you have to water and you have to make sure that they’re not stuck anywhere and that they haven’t ran off and protect them from animals… Make sure they get up,” Ross added.

Poultry farming is linked to one in four jobs in Arkansas, according to the U of A Systems Division of Agriculture, which makes this initiative even more advantageous.

“Even beyond the fairs their going to use chicks as an opportunity to either start their own backyard flock, start a business selling eggs, or create a financial opportunity for themselves selling these chickens to other people who might want to start a flock,” Bolton said.

“Everything you eat… Restaurants… That’s agriculture. I mean every time you sit down to eat… Someone in the agriculture business made that happen,” Ross said.

In terms of broiler production—the raising of chickens for meat production—Arkansas is ranked third in the US by the U of A System’s Division of Agriculture.



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