It was a first, but it won’t be the last time Willows High School students with developmental disabilities were front and center, showing their goats at the recent Glenn County Fair in California. “Oreo” took the prized title of champion in the market goat division. Both students and goats have been part of a new Mighty Honker Goat Program introduced at the school this year in partnership with the National FFA Organization (FFA). Wilbur-Ellis Impact Funds helped make that program a reality. No kidding.
The school received Wilbur-Ellis impact funds totaling $5,000 to help build a greenhouse for students, including those with developmental disabilities. The greenhouse enables students to take plant science classes, integrated with FFA criteria.
A member of the Willows FFA student chapter learned of the program, proposed it to the school’s Ag booster club, and the rest is history.
Mighty Honker pairs FFA general education students with those who have special needs. The goal is to mentor and teach developmentally disabled students how to properly feed, exercise, clean, care and groom goats for show and auction. Even better, the program allows students to learn responsibility, teamwork and social skills, and gives them the opportunity to form deep and meaningful friendships.
Gina Taylor, the Company’s customer service manager in Willows, serves on the local school board and the Ag booster club. Her daughter Katherine, a Willows High School junior, has been a member of 4H since she was nine years old and has been involved with FFA throughout high school. Today, she’s one of 16 Mighty Honker mentors.
“The FFA is important here,” Gina said. “Everyone is touched in some way by special needs students. Even the judge at the county fair fought back tears watching these kids walk out, showing the goat alongside their mentor. The goats had been in their care since January.
“It takes the entire community, including businesses such as Wilbur-Ellis, to make these programs possible. These are special kids who’ve been given the chance to participate in the FFA, even earn the FFA Greenhand degree,” she said. “A total of 460 students attend Willows High School. And they have done wonders to better the lives of everyone. They give back.”