Mendocino County has a rich history of agriculture and Ukiah High is keeping that alive by helping FFA students raise their animals on campus. Sophomore student, Autumn Walker is one of these choice students looking ahead into a future of agriculture and working with animals. Raising an animal for FFA is no easy task and Walker has many jobs with her animals that she has to do during the day. Walker is one of the few students raising goats for FFA which makes her jobs different from other students who raise pigs.
“I sweep the pens and give them (the goats) a few scoops of food” Walker described her day-to-day chores that she does to take care of her animals and it is no easy task. “Then I renew their water every day. Every Saturday I give them a bath but I groom them every morning and every night.” Even with all the care that Walker gives her animals on a day-to-day basis, it can take the goats some time to get used to the daily interactions with humans which can make raising the animals even harder if they try to avoid human contact that they need. “I spend at least one to two hours a day with them and try to get them used to me,” Walker says. “My male goat is still getting used to me but the female goat is very friendly.”
As Walker tries to get the goats used to her presence, she is also preparing them for auction in the summertime where they will be sold off as Market goats. “I plan on giving the goats the best time I can for as long as I have them. I will be selling them as market goats and taking the money from them to buy another goat.” After auctioning the goats off and buying another, Walker will have some money left over to buy supplies to help take care of her new goat. The process repeats itself for as long as she continues to raise goats for FFA.
Even though raising the goats is a difficult task, to students like Walker, it is worth all of the work that she puts into it. With all of the ways that raising animals can help students look ahead to a bright future in agriculture, learning all of the ways to take care of the animals is extremely beneficial to students for their future careers. Getting to be around animals all the time is not only good for the future but is also good for the present moment. Even auctioning the animals off gives students a taste into business in the future and the give and take of earning your own money. “I love [raising goats] because I get to watch them grow up and become a big part of today’s food production! The bond I make with the animals is so fun having.” After watching Walker interact with the animals, the love that she claims for the animals was apparent in the gentle way that she cared for them and her loving tone when speaking with them.
For students interested in a career pathway involving agriculture, raising animals through FFA is a great way to get involved in Ukiah’s agriculture community and start looking ahead into a successful future no matter what students want to do. Overall, creating the connection between humans and animals at such a young age is an amazing thing that can lead to a bright future and help give students a boost into whatever career they may want to pursue in the future.