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Mighty Honker Goat Program

Golden State Farm Credit demonstrates its commitment to Kids, Agriculture and Education Through Willows High School FFA Mighty Honker Goat Program

CHICO, CA – (May 9, 2022) -- Golden State Farm Credit’s (GSFC) lending office in Willows, CA has a lot to “honk” about when discussing the goats raised by Willows High School FFA students and a group of students with special needs that will be shown at the Glenn County Fair Junior Livestock Auction.

GSFC played a part in making this program possible with a donation of $5,000 to the Mighty Honkers Goat Program with the help of CoBank’s Sharing Success Program. The goal of the program is to mentor and teach developmentally disabled students how to properly feed, exercise, clean, care for and groom goats for show and auction. Golden State Farm Credit’s contribution includes $1,500 for each special needs student. With this money, the school can purchase whites and FFA jackets. The money also helps pay for feed, food bins, medicine and all show supplies for the animal and the student themselves. The students selected to participate are developmentally disabled students at Willows High School. They attend class with mainstream FFA students who serve as mentors all semester. The students collaborate while working with the goats in the barn, cleaning pens, writing buyer’s letters, and accompanying the team to drop off buyer’s letters at local businesses who support the program. Currently, there are four students enrolled in the Mighty Honker Goat program including Zachary Gonzalez, 9th grade; Franny Ruiz, 10th grade; and Adam Dyck and Jose Fletes, both 11th graders. The students will show their goats at the Glenn County Fair and then sell them at the Junior Livestock Auction on Sat. May 21st at 221 E Yolo St. in Orland. Each student will receive up to 40 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their goat at the Junior Livestock Auction sale.

“Contributing to programs like this that have a personal impact on students is the heart of what we are trying to do with our community outreach,” said Kris Costa, Community Outreach Manager for GSFC.  “Our support goes deeper than just purchasing fair animals, which we will continue to do; it creates a memory that will stay with the students for many years.”

GSFC is committed to helping county fairs to maintain their legacy, vibrance and importance to agriculture in the rural counties it serves. GSFC plans to invest more than $60,000 in fairs this year and in turn support 4H, FFA and local youth clubs and individuals showing replacement heifers, steers, swine, and lambs.

Staci Alves, a 2010 graduate from Willows High and former FFA student, now teaches Agriculture at Willows High School. For Alves, the heart of the Mighty Honker Goat Program is the connection between her students, the goats, and their special needs partners. “You’ll usually see me bawling my eyes out at the fair,” said Alves, who is quick to note the program’s motto, ‘Always stay humble and kind.’

“These students have worked tremendously hard with their mentors to learn how to raise, feed, show and fit a market goat while also understanding the importance of hard work, dedication, and what it means to have perseverance,” said Marissa Hunter, the 2021-2022 Mighty Honker Goat Program Senior Student Advisor.

“Since 2017, we have had the incredible opportunity to have had 26 students in our program and this would not be possible without our amazing community support and donations the past six years. The money from GSFC’s generous donation covers everything the student may need to come to the Glenn County Fair.”

The theme of the 2022 Glenn County Fair is Barn in the U.S.A. which seems fitting to Alves, who’s been working with the students and the goats at the Willows High School barn near the Willows airport. “Once the students are paired up and this gets going, they’re all giving hugs in the hallway, which is super cool to see,” she says proudly, the emotional connection is also felt by teachers.

The Mighty Honker Goat Program is one of only 3 programs of its kind in the state of California. According to Alves, “There aren’t more programs like this because it’s hard! It’s a lot of work, but the reward is how much it pays off for our students.”

Photo courtesy of Mitchell Yerxa