For the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the Exercise Your Character Event in Des Moines, IA, organized by Hy-Vee Inc. This is an event I look forward to every year as 7,000 4th and 5th graders gather together at HyVee Hall to learn about the 6 Pillars of Character. The atmosphere is fun, energetic, loud, and inspirational as professional athletes and coaches share with the students what it means to exercise good character. The 6 Pillars of Character include caring, respect, citizenship, trustworthiness, fairness, and RESPONSIBILITY.

This year my wife created a board to hang on the wall in our house to teach and remind our own children how to demonstrate the six pillars of character in their lives. The arrival of our chickens this year has been an amazing way for our kids to practice one of the 6 pillars, RESPONSIBILITY. Always doing your best, doing your chores, doing what you’re supposed to do, and taking care of your things are a few of the ways we’ve defined responsibility. Davis, our seven year old, has learned a lot about responsibility as it is his job to help take care of the chickens.

As a family, we don’t do allowances. We figure that to be a part of this family, everyone has to do their share. Depending on the age of the kid, everyone’s chores are a little different. Davis knows that he has to make his bed, keep his room neat, help clear the dinner table, gather and take out the trash, and he now takes care of the chickens. This may seem like a big job for a second grader, but it is NOT. As the books says, it literally is just “5 Minutes a Day.” His main responsibility is to give them fresh food and water in the mornings and late afternoons. The part he enjoys best about this job is that he is the one that gets to collect the eggs! I’ve learned that it is best to always let Davis collect the eggs, otherwise he will get upset. He has become very possessive over “his” fresh eggs.

Although we don’t give allowances, we do provide our kids the opportunity to earn some money through jobs that are out of their normal responsibilities; one of these jobs is cleaning out the chicken coop. This is understandably not one of the most pleasant jobs, but Davis doesn’t seem to mind it. I guess a little cash reward works well when it comes to some chores.

So far we’ve experienced many benefits as backyard chicken farmers, one of them being, teaching our kids responsibility. Taking care of our chickens may be only “5 Minutes a Day,” but our kids are learning life’s valuable lessons along the way.

Hunter Kemper is the most decorated U.S. triathlete in history. A four-time member of the USA Olympic triathlon team, he is one of only two men in the world to qualify for every Olympic triathlon (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) and the only man in the world to complete all four.  You can follow Hunter and his journey with his Murray McMurray Hatchery chickens at