Year 1 student Rihanna MacDonald gives Cheepy the sustainability program chick a ride on her shoulder.
Year 1 student Rihanna MacDonald gives Cheepy the sustainability program chick a ride on her shoulder. John Gass

Classes get sustainable

CRYSTAL Creek Public school is offering excellent sustainability education on the "cheep".

My Daily News' photographer John Gass discovered the school had been developing a sustainability program over the past three years.

He then produced this image, which principal Brad Davis accurately termed "deadly cute", to photographically capture the program.

Mr Davis said the program was comprehensive, with four large vegetable gardens, a water tank, chook pen and green bin system.

"The manure from the chooks goes into the vege' garden, waste from the garden feeds the chooks, eggs from the chooks are used in the school and any leftover are sold at the front office."

He said the photo captured the fact the school's original chickens' "best laying days were behind them".

"So we've hatched a new group of chicks in the Year 1 and 2 classrooms, which will be raised to be the next layers," Mr Davis said.

"They'll be cared for in class until they're too big and smelly."

He said the breed the school had could lay at 18 weeks old, after which their second year was their best for laying and retirement was required after their third.

"They lay about 350 eggs in their second year, then about 200 in their third and, in their fourth, about 60.

"Which isn't enough to be able to adequately teach the students about sustainability."

In keeping with the local, sustainable practices being taught, fertile eggs are sourced from local hobby farmers and hatched in a P and C Association bought incubator.

The students even study the development of the chicks.

Stage two plans for the program involve an outdoor classroom beside the chook pen and gardens, Mr Davis said.

"Then we'll add a bush tucker trail to finish it off," he said.

"It's quite a significant, long term program - not just a flash in the pan we've done once.

"We say things to the students like 'make sure your (bread) crusts go in the green bin so the chooks can get it'.

"Here at Crystal Creek we're trying to prepare the children for their futures.

"A vital aspect to having a happy adult is being healthy and caring for the environment.

"Without that all the other things can't happen."

Other benefits of the program, the principal said, were that children not particularly successful in either sport or academia might find success during their sustainability program activities.

Also, kids "doing it tough" tended to find it difficult to remain angry, anxious or upset with a chick in their hands or while working in the garden, Mr Davis said.

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