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Project GOATS: Grazing Overzealously Addresses Terrain Situations

Escondido 4-H | San Diego County Status: Complete Categories: Animal Science, Environmental Stewardship, Science Youth Leader: Jillian | Age: 13

The County of San Diego and the residents within this region suffered significant devastation as a result of the wild land fires of 2003 and 2007. This area continues to have substantial fuel load reduction needs and dry brush concerns as the result of ongoing drought issues

What has 4-H done?

Project: GOATS was designed to create a viable and ecologically friendly solution to address the vegetation management problems in San Diego County. The use of Boer goats for 4-H and FFA projects is a common practice within San Diego County as young people annually raise these animals, show them at the local fairs, and then sell them for meat. However, project GOATS sparked a new awareness within the 4-H and FFA groups and residential communities of San Diego regarding an alternative use for these valuable animals which includes weed abatement and brush management.  Goats raised by 4-H and FFA members were trained and adopted by community members with large parcels of land.

I love Jillian’s GOATS project . . .we lost our home during the 2007 wildfires. And when we rebuilt we started using Boer goats to clear our 16 acre property and this was the first year we passed the fire department inspection with zero recommendations to do further clearing!  -4-H Member Family

The Impact

Project GOATS achieved great success. 10 members of 4-H and FFA participated and 8 project animals were adopted in San Diego County. These animals are currently providing ongoing vegetation management in an ecologically friendly manner while making the environment safer for those who reside there. Those who adopted the animals reported that they were, ". . . delighted to have supported 4-H and FFA members; are pleased to have given these animals a chance at a longer life; and can now retire the weed-whacker and riding mower.” Members of 4-H and FFA who participated in Project GOATS stated they were, “. . . thrilled that their project animal would have a long and happy life; could be put to use to help the community; and that they were given the option of visiting their animal whenever they wanted.”

One 4-H member’s family stated, “I love Jillian’s GOATS project, it is very close to home for our family as we lost our home during the 2007 wildfires. And when we rebuilt we started using Boer goats to clear our 16 acre property and this was the first year we passed the fire department inspection with zero recommendations to do further clearing!” Project GOATS cultivated a positive community transformation through project based learning, leadership, partnership collaboration, and team decision-making while evoking conscious decision making, and compassion for animals, the environment, and fellow human beings.