A Colorado State University Cooperative Extension program that helps rural, agricultural youth in Gunnison County was acknowledged Dec. 9 with an award for their commitment to creating programs with youth diversity. The Diversity Award is given each year by Colorado State Cooperative Extension to one of its programs that shows an exceptional commitment to reaching diverse audiences and that embodies the organization’s mission to support and educate a diverse audience within the state of Colorado.
Gunnison team members who received the award are Kim Fabrizius, Colorado State Cooperative Extension Gunnison County director; Nadine Henry, Colorado State Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development agent; Cheryl Dandel, Cooperative Extension office administrator and Ann Bertschy, Colorado State Cooperative Extension 4-H volunteer leader.
The team developed the Get Your Goat project, which is a livestock program for non-agricultural youth from other-than traditional white agricultural families within the county. The project requires that the children spend a minimum of eight hours a month working and bonding with the goat they ‘adopt.’ For $1 each year, each young person can lease and care for one to two goats from Bertschy’s herd.
The project was designed as an opportunity to work and bond with a livestock animal, without having to provide feed, housing and veterinary services – resources that not every family can afford or is equipped to provide because they reside within city limits.
Youth learn to groom the goat, care for its hooves and maintain regular veterinary services, which are funded by the leader. The youth also benefit psychologically from the project, by experiencing satisfaction and responsibilities by caring from their own goat.
As an extension to the beneficial project, a sheep project was added this year. The modified project allows children to lease a goat or sheep, or one of each. In addition to the success of the goat project, the youth involved share ideas for helping the community learn about the animals, and as a result, each year the project sponsors a Fall Fair and Fiber Festival and an Easter Petting Zoo to share their joy of working with animals with other children.
Gunnison County, with 0.5 percent African American, 5 percent Hispanic, 0.5 percent Asian, 95.1 percent white and 1.4 percent listed as other ethnicities, is a diverse county, with a large rural and urban population.
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension brings the resources of the university to you. As part of a nation-wide system, we call upon the latest research to help Coloradoans learn more about gardening and commercial horticulture, healthy eating, personal finances, community resources, agricultural technology, food safety, dealing with changes in their community, family relationships and managing small acreages and natural resources. Our youth development program annually reaches more than 115,000 children in Colorado. Our 57 county offices, serving 59 Colorado counties, help people use university expertise on the job, at home and in their community.