The Coalition of Chicken Enthusiasts is one of CSU Bakersfield’s newest clubs

The CCE, Coalition of Chicken Enthusiasts is one of CSU Bakersfield’s newest clubs. It was established back in December 2020.

Viviana Ramirez, a psychology major and French minor, is the president of this successful club. Najeeb Darwish, a biology major with minors in chemistry and art history, is the co-founder of this club and treasurer. Both of these individuals are extremely dedicated to their goal and future plans for this club. According to their Instagram their mission statement is “to construct a chicken coop in the Edible Garden and bring in hens to provide fresh eggs for the Food Pantry. We wish to make both this club and its mission sustainable for many years to come!” Viviana Ramirez, the president and founder of the club says the club meets on Mondays via zoom or in person, and that there are currently 60 active members. The large number of members makes it one of the biggest clubs on campus.

I asked Ramirez, “What were the reasons to start this club?”

Ramirez answered, “I raise chicken myself. I started volunteering at the garden from Sensational Sophomores and I saw things that caught my attention like produce and gardening. Later, I got introduced to the food pantry, where there were lots of vegetables. I saw that they had eggs and thought to myself…I should bring my own eggs. I then brought my own donation of eggs to the food pantry. They are organic and popular. The extra produce from the garden, I would give to my chicken. In return I donated eggs to the pantry. I thought to myself, why are there no chickens in the garden? If I am gone, there would be no stability in egg production. I started talking to colleagues about my idea. There are a lot of people who own chickens and like the idea of ​​bringing chickens to CSUB. Heidi said, What if you guys started the club? I was a little hesitant about the people not wanting to be involved, is it even possible bringing chickens here? I see a need to have chickens. The garden had to buy lots of compost and I thought, chickens can really help with that. It can help with maintenance at the garden. Najeeb Darwish, treasurer and co-founder, came up to me at the Student Union, while I was eating my sandwich that was falling apart, and he said, Are you the one that’s interested in making the chicken club? He was very interested in partaking in the club, and he is ASI director of sustainability. He mentioned clubs can request from ASI, which would help support the coop.”

I asked Ramirez, “How did the help of friends contribute to starting?”

Ramirez answered, “Every time I talked to someone, they mentioned that they used to raise chickens. Yasmin, I love Yasmin, she used to raise chickens and she wants to learn to do it again, back in the Philippines, she used to raise them. I was very inspired by that and I said, Yeah , join the club. Najeeb owns chickens. When anyone has a chicken idea, I invite them to join the club. They inspired me to keep going.”

I asked Ramirez, “What do you look forward to getting out of the club?”

Ramirez answered, “Giving back to the community. I see a need. The egg prices have gone up. The Edible Garden is very educational.”

I asked Ramirez and Darwish, “What does the future process look like in regards to the chickens?”

Ramirez stated, “I want the members to go through specific training knowing biosecurity measures and egg handling. I want them to know how to handle the chickens.” Darwish said, “Volunteers at the garden won’t be able to handle the chickens. It’s left explicitly to garden staff and specific club members who trained in bio security classes.”

I asked Ramirez and Darwish, “Any future events for the CCE?”

Ramirez stated, “We regularly come out to the garden. 9/10 you come to the garden, you will meet a chicken club member.”

I asked Ramirez and Darwish, “Who can join”?

Viviana stated, “Anyone can join the club. To be a voting member, you must come out to the garden once a month for an hour and attend 2 meetings. We want you to familiarize yourself with the garden. You can join to be a supporting member. A regular member would support the mission.”

Darwish says the club will continue rising. There is a lot of leadership and passion in the members, that it will continue to grow and thrive. They are excited for new members to join after they have graduated from CSUB, and they see their club growing to be successful. Darwish states, “Without the support of Joel, Heidi, and Dr. Watkins we most likely wouldn’t have gone far. Joel is also our advisor. They brought a fun environment. We are very excited for our coop we designed. We are set with the layout of the club. We are ready to go.”

I also talked to Joel Kirksey, the garden coordinator for the Edible Garden. I got his thoughts about the progression of the club. Joel stated, “I oversee the production management of the garden and staff advisor for the CCE I am 100% impressed with the initiative and youthful energy of the individuals and members. I think they’ve done an amazing job, making a plan and following through. Their excitement they bring to the project has brought anticipation to a lot of other people on campus. I am excited about getting this chicken coop and chickens to the garden. I think that what they are doing is going to ultimately benefit the student community, staff, and faculty who benefit from the new protein (the eggs) source. The chicken manure will help our sustainability goals, lessening our reliance on outside resources for compost and fertilizer. These two individuals, Viviana and Najeeb, the other executives, and the members have continued to impress me. I think wherever they go is going to be amazing and they are awesome people.”

I reached out to a few club members for insight. I wanted to know their experience and expectations with the club. I reached out to a few members and this was their response to the following questions:

How do you like the club so far? What are you excited to see happen along the way?

Nathalie Larios, a junior environmental resource management major stated, “I am loving the club so far. It all started with our Club President wanting to bring in eggs for the Food Pantry, and now we have our own little community! It is exciting to see the progress we have made, and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it all! One of the things I am most excited to see is when we finally bring in the chickens to the garden. We have started site preparations and are working on the coop designs to make sure everything works out well. It has been a long process to get approvals and make sure everything is up to code, but it has been the most rewarding journey. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the club and our chickens!”

Uriel Jacobo-Prado, a freshman psychology major, stated, “The club has been an amazing experience so far! I’ve connected with other students here at CSUB and have established a network with like-minded individuals who share the same goals.

I’m excited to bring a coop for the future generations of Runners! Having a steady source of organic eggs for the food pantry will help promote better dieting or eating habits for both dorm students and others who take advantage of the Food Pantry! And finally, I’m excited to see what the club will grow into, we are simply planting the seed that’ll grow into a tree. (Hopefully, but I believe in the Runners!)”

Alexandra Brown, a senior biology major, stated, “I am having such a wonderful time in the club so far! We have such a great group of people working together to get this coop constructed, bring the chickens in, and help keep the Coop, along with our club’s support for the Edible Garden and Food Pantry, sustainable for future ‘Runners!

I am so excited to see how our club continues to grow and how our efforts can synergize with those of other campus clubs and organizations to help bring the greatest benefits to our campus community.”

Julian Pereyra, a sophomore computer science major stated, “I love the club! The club offers a great social experience through volunteering at the Edible Garden. I am very excited to be building the coop and maintaining the chickens for when they finally arrive!”

Yelitza Amador Orozco, a sophomore biology major and theater minor, states, “I love the club. I’ve been here since the start, so to see it gain so much traction makes me look forward to the future. I enjoy seeing people from all walks of life come together to get this project going. I am excited to see how else we can help the community by bringing chickens to the Edible Garden. Of course we are bringing eggs to the food pantry, but I look forward to incorporating the chickens in sustainable ways, such as pest control and compost, and teaching people proper chicken care.”

Have you heard about the CCE? Leave a comment below!

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