The back of their MTSU blue T-shirts read: BYOG (Bring Yer Own Goat).
Thirty-six youth from across the state brought their own goats and learned more about preparing them for competition at the first Goat Camp Tuesday, June 24, in the MTSU Tennessee Livestock Center.
“We’re really excited about this,” said Alanna Vaught, camp director and School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member. “We’ve got kids from all across the state of Tennessee. They’ve brought their goats. We’ve invited some professionals to teach them about caring for, clipping, grooming, showing — anything they possibly would need to know to be successful with their meat goats.”
Jessie Hickerson, 14, a rising sophomore at Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna, Tennessee, said raising goats for the past six years has taught her responsibility.
“It teaches me leadership,” Hickerson said. “I have to be responsible for myself and make sure they are ready for showing.”
For the MTSU Block & Bridle Club-sponsored camp, Hickerson brought 5-month-old Ellie-Mae, a traditional Boer goat — with red head and white body.
Emily Wilson, 13, lives on a farm with her family in Christiana, Tennessee. The home-schooled ninth-grade student began raising goats when she was 9. Wilson said she learned “how to look at marketing goats” at the camp.
Another home-schooled student, rising sixth-grader Liam Allen, 11, of College Grove, Tennessee, in Williamson County, said he “learned a lot … mostly about the standards.”
The camp featured the husband-and-wife team of Rusty and Rayna Lee of Winder, Georgia, which is outside of Athens.
The Lees shared about various aspects of caring for goats and preparing them for competition.
“What we’re trying to do with the Goat Camp is teach these kids what to look for in their breeding stock and the show animals, and how to trim and prepare them for show day and be able to exhibit them the best way possible,” Rayne Lee said.
Mitchell Mote of Murfreesboro and an agent with the UT Extension also participated. MTSU associate professor Jessica Carter, adviser for the Block & Bridle Club, assisted in the running of the event.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Vaught said. “And at the end of the day, everybody can come in and see kids (children) showing kids (goats).”
The youngsters in attendance will be gearing up for the Oct. 3-4 Heart of Tennessee Meat Goat Classic, which will be held in MTSU’s Tennessee Livestock Center.
For more information, call 615-898-2523. To learn more about the first Goat Camp, visit http://mtweb.mtsu.edu/bandb2/goatcamp.html.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)