May 29, 2024

From Fish To Feathers: The R. Judson Carlberg Memorial Chicken Coop Opens for Homecoming

Hannah Longley, Contributor


Six chickens have taken up residency behind the Village this fall thanks to the efforts of three friends.


At the end of last spring semester, seniors Bobby Grinnell, Dorothy Hartley, and John MacGregor proposed and were approved for a chicken coop behind the Village, using funds raised three years prior from the student body to install an aquarium in Jenks.


Grinnell, Hartley, and MacGregor met during their freshman year. As a well-intentioned prank they introduced three compatible fish to the science building’s fish tank. But then the new fish ate the native fish’s eggs, and they had to be removed.


“We wanted to give back to the school because you don’t want to leave with hard feelings,” MacGregor said.


In the spring of 2016 the three raised $910 from the student body over two weeks for a 150-gallon aquarium in Jenks. Struggling to work through the chain of command, however, the idea fell through.


“We got caught up in all the red-tape and decided we needed to pivot,” Hartley said.


With graduation approaching, they wanted to use the funds toward something proactive. Hartley framed their question as: “How else can we contribute to the campus that would be fun and constructive and use the money well?”


In May, after working specifically with Sarah Welch, Resident Director of the Village and other advisors, they prepared a proposal detailing benefits of the chicken coop, its educational benefits for the biology department and students at large, as well as the emotional benefits. Many students have personal service animals, but Grinnell describes the chickens as “communal emotional support animals” the whole campus can benefit from.


As they pursued the idea, they found chickens were a common experience. “You would be surprised about the amount of people who raised chickens growing up,” MacGregor said. “It really brings up childhood memories.”


“The Village is really trying to establish a neighborhood feel and to let it seem more like a home and so that it seemed like a great place that would be receptive to having a chicken coop,” Hartley said.


Hartley described residents as ‘pumped’, saying residents are eager to lend a hand with the coop.


MacGregor remarked that building the coop was his favorite part of the experience. The coop is built in two parts: the hen house hosts the eggs and keeps the birds safe from weather, while the run is the fenced area outside of the coop. Many students helped with the building process.


“The eggs, they decided, will be split amongst the houses, so they will be on rotations,” said Welch. She hopes to see that this elevates the sense of independence and adulthood the Village is supposed to represent.


Following graduation, Hartley plans to head to divinity school, Grinnell hopes become a teacher, and MacGregor expects to follow his interest in music. Although their plans are far from chickens, Hartley acclaims the experience as it being complementary to their education and overall investment to Gordon.


Though the chickens have already arrived, R. Judson Carlberg Memorial Chicken Coop will officially open on Saturday, at 1:45PM September 29th  during Homecoming festivities.

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