School Homing Pigeon Project Eagle High School


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.

  • Science - Ornithology, genetics, etc.
  • English - writing skills,
  • Technology - computers, Web-sites,PowerPoint, GPS, etc...
  • Art - Use of artwork on lofts, crates, etc.
  • 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 individuals, etc.
  • Nutrition & Health
  • Job Skills
  • Responsibility - Cleaning lofts, feeding and watering, and caring for the birds, etc.
  • Carpentry, building and construction of lofts, nest boxes, perches, etc.
  • Data Collection
  • Research
  • 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 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:

    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 objectives.
  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 classroom teacher.
  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