Pictured from left: Conner Brooks, FFA student advisor and 10th grader, assists 9th grader Carsyn Chadwick with her goat. Chadwick is a member of the chapter’s goat show team. At right is agricultural science teacher Sean Bryant.
Vocational agriculture teacher Sean Bryant believes teens can develop better life skills in the barn. A School EmPOWERment Grant from Walton EMC is helping him prove his point.
Bryant is the FFA advisor at Loganville High School, a suburban school where few students live on a farm. That hasn’t stopped the instructor from finding a way for teens to learn by caring for livestock — goats, specifically.
After more than a decade without a livestock program, FFA members at the school began raising and exhibiting goats six years ago. The experience teaches responsibility, work ethic, critical thinking and communication — skills that can be applied to many careers beyond agriculture.
“Livestock exhibiting is hard work,” Bryant said. “There are a lot of failures and struggles involved in getting an animal that will perform in the showring.”
The program received a significant boost with the opening of a 728-square-foot livestock barn constructed with a $20,000 EmPOWERment grant. Previously, students had to drive to Loganville Middle School to care for their goats at a shared facility.
Having a barn on school grounds opens the door for more teens to participate in the goat program. Students typically spend one to two hours daily caring for their animals.
Loganville FFA members are busy preparing for the 2024 Georgia Junior National Livestock Show occurring this month. Bryant is optimistic that having a new facility within easy reach will help them build on last season’s showring successes.
“It was our best year ever with all our students making it to the showmanship finals,” he said about results from the 2023 state show. “I think this year is going to be even better.”