One of the beneficial effects of the Covid pandemic has been the “extra” time that so many families and individuals have been given. Some businesses closed for a time, or scheduled employees in rotating shifts. Schools closed. Events were canceled. And while at first glance it all may seem a little sad and overwhelming, there are those who have been able to turn the lemons into lemonade.
Kai Jorgenson is a freshman this year at Gothenburg High School. He is very interested in agriculture and joined FFA as soon as he was able to. Last Spring he was looking ahead and thinking about options for an FFA project for the 2020-21 school year when he got an idea...chickens.
“I thought that chickens would be a fun project that I could have done in under 10 weeks,” Kai explained. So he took his idea and ran with it. “I started by ordering the chickens before they were even hatched. They arrived in the mail on April 24.”
Kai quickly learned that there is a lot that goes into raising any type of animal, including chickens. “I would feed them and fill their water every morning and night. Each week I would increase their food intake as they grew really fast each week,” he explained.
His project, however, isn’t just about raising chickens. The whole concept behind farming, after all, is raising food for people to eat. That is exactly where Kai planned to take his chicken project.
“At the end of 10 weeks, I butchered them all with the help of my amazing family and my Nana and Grandpa Zarek. I did the whole process from the chick stage to the selling of them.”
The FFA model at Gothenburg High School consists of three areas; classroom instruction, competitions and events, and supervised agricultural experience (SAE). SAE is high quality experiential, work-based and project-based learning in agricultural education. It is a requirement for obtaining a Chapter FFA Degree.
“The thought of raising chickens was always interesting to me so when our ag teacher, Mr. Scherer told us that we needed to choose an SAE project I jumped at the idea to raise meat chickens,” said Kai.
Operating on a limited budget Kai got creative when it came time to market and sell his chickens. “I didn’t have a lot of money to market my product so I made a Kai the Chicken Guy/Diamond Pines Poultry Instagram and Facebook page. I posted a picture or video every day to gain an interest in my project,” explained the entrepreneurial teen.
“I spent like three hours a day feeding and planning my project and I ended up with about 160 hours into the project in just one summer. This project would have been very hard to do if there wasn’t a quarantine because I had to spend a lot of time on it,” he continued. “It would have been possible, but it would have taken some really early mornings. This filled up my free time so I wasn’t ever bored with the extra time on my hands.”
Free time is not something Kai typically has a lot of. Besides FFA he is also involved in football, basketball, golf, One Acts, musical, speech, Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, Gothenburg swim team, Boy Scouts, Methodist youth group, and Student Council. He is a busy young man who has taken full advantage of the time this pandemic has given him in a very productive way.