School Homing Pigeon Project
Eagle High School
EAGLE HIGH SCHOOL RACING PIGEON PROGRAM
Science teacher Jessie Garza, III and Jessie Garza Jr.,
Director of the Northwest Community Action Center started the
school project in 1997 because they wanted to systematize a
learning program in which homing pigeons were utilized in the
classrooms to teach core subjects such as science, math, history
Don Lee, the Principal of Eagle High School;
Ellen Beiersdorf, Superintendent and the Tjoppenish School Board
approved the program. Eagle High School became the first high
school known in the U.S. to incorporate racing pigeons into the
schools science curriculum.
3500 students live in the midst of the lush
fields of the Yakima Valley in Washington. The agricultural
community is rich in ethnic and cultural diversity, which
presents challenges in educational instruction. There is 90%
poverty as well.
The goal is to have every school district in the
Yakima Valley incorporate racing pigeons into their regular
curriculum that will eventually lead to the schools sponsoring
racing events with racing pigeons in competition between the
Yakima Valley schools.
The racing pigeon class (class of Ornithology) has become one
of the most popular classes on campus at EAGLE High School. By
the end of 2001, over 200 students had taken this course or
participated in the project.
The lessons & skills that can be taught are almost
|Science - Ornithology, genetics, etc.
||English - writing skills,
||Technology - computers, Web-sites,
PowerPoint, GPS, etc…
||Art - Use of artwork on lofts, crates,
|History - Use of pigeons in wars, etc.
||Math - calculating velocities, etc.
||Geography - Studying topographical maps,
areas of interest, etc.
||Speech - Presentations to local groups and
|Nutrition & Health
||Responsibility - Cleaning lofts, feeding
and watering, and caring for the birds, etc.
||Carpentry, building and construction of
lofts, nest boxes, perches, etc.
||Character Education - Building good
character traits, etc.
||Extra-curricular Pigeon Racing
At EAGLE High School, this is a class where
students are involved with processes that take a scientific
approach in studying their subjects in a lab type setting.
The class is helping students meet the required
Washington State education requirements in that it is a class
based on hands-on-learning.
Students are keeping daily logs of growth rate
patterns, weight gains, body measurements, and other relevant
scientific data and information.
Since starting the project, getting students to
come to school has been improved significantly.
The problem now, is getting the students to go
Yakima Valley Racing Pigeon Club members have
become mentors and role models for the students whenever they
get together on Friday night for shipping, on Saturday's to
figure out the race results, and at the annual awards banquet
sponsored by the club.
Getting started required funding. The Garzas
were successful in obtaining funds from:
American Racing Pigeon Union, ARPU
EAGLE High School - Toppenish School District
Zillah School District
Yakima Valley Racing Pigeon Club
Washington State Racing Pigeon Organization
Washington State Universities and Colleges
Toyota TAPESTRY Foundation.
The project requires a strong commitment from a
teacher who is willing to integrate 'racing pigeons' into
The EAGLE HS pigeon loft measures 12' x 12' and
has two sections. The two sections house the young birds and old
birds during the racing season. Students are responsible for any
needed repair work or just putting the finishing touches on the
Parents have been very supportive of the class.
Students often get requests to give presentations to individuals
and groups such as the Audubon Society, the School Board,
parents, and other students.
Students win in area competitions. In the 2000
& 2001 Old Bird and Combine Competition Races, one student
collected the following honors:
|2000 Old Birds
1st Prize 245 Miles
1st Prize 300 Miles
1st Prize 500 Miles
|2001 Old Birds
vs. 14 Plus Lofts
1st Prize 385 Miles
1st Prize Club/Comb. 385 Miles
1st Prize Club/Comb. 300 Miles
1st Prize 125 Miles
2nd Prize 500 Miles
2nd Prize Short-Average Speed
3rd Prize Long-Average Speed
4th Prize Champion Loft
Clocked 600-Mile Day-bird
How Do You Start A School Racing Pigeon Project
1. You need to have clear project goals and
2. You will need to have your club members full
support and commitment to provide the necessary resources and
volunteer work with the school project, i.e. Long-term
commitment to waive the shipping costs, club dues and fees,
volunteer to be a mentor, donating the birds, assist with and/or
train their birds, help build the loft, work with and assist the
3. You will need to find a teacher who is
willing to integrate and teach his/her class using pigeons as
subjects and/or to coordinate the extra curricular activities
involved with the racing events/training.
4. You need your school district superintendent
and/or school principal's support for implementing a racing
pigeon project in their school district - Alternative Schools
may be more receptive to this idea - at first.
5. You may want to contact your local Community
Action Agency to assist you with identifying resources for
starting the project i.e. funds to build the loft, purchase a
clocking unit, training baskets, water containers, and feeders.
The Garzas are also able to take advantage of a
cable access programming television show called "Racing
With Pigeons - A Family Hobby," hosted and directed by
Jessie Garza, Jr. and Jessie Garza III.
They are also writing a book entitled " The
Lessons Learned and The Power of Racing Pigeons."
If you would like to see this program continue
to thrive, financial support is always appreciated.
Jessie Garza, Jr. - Director
Northwest Community Action Center
706 Rentschler Lane
Toppenish, Washington 98948
Phone - (509) 865-4976
Jessie J. Garza III, Science Teacher
EAGLE High School
106 Franklin Avenue
Toppenish, Washington 98948
Phone - (509) 865-3377 or
If you would like to begin a school racing
pigeon program, please contact the AU at 405-848-5801 or firstname.lastname@example.org