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 and speech.
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 limitless.
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 home.
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 his/her curriculum.
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 lofts.
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:
How Do You Start A School Racing Pigeon Project ?
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