Teen opts to start her own dairy goat operation
LINCOLN, ARK. – The possibilities are endless when it comes to starting something new. In the agriculture world, starting a new project could be intimidating or seem impossible, but with new technologies, hundreds of guides and resources, learning how to begin is easier than you’d think.
When it comes to making a dream come true, sometimes you must do your research and experience trial and error in order to make it work. Most big things start out small, so accomplishing goals can take time. However, that’s where the biggest lessons come from.
Hope Oliver, junior at Lincoln High School, recently started her own supervised agricultural experience with dairy goats. Though she had never had experience with them, she still made it happen.
“I live on a farm, and we’ve got lots of animals, but we mostly focus on the dairy cattle and dairy goats,” Hope said.
It helps to have already established a basic knowledge of farming before starting a new project, which is why FFA and 4-H members are encouraged to start their own supervised agricultural experience.
“Even though I’ve raised animals my whole life, [raising goats] is still new and exciting every day,” Hope said.
Even for people who might not have the land and resources already, there are opportunities to still get those experiences. FFA and 4-H members learn new skills and develop useful knowledge of several agricultural related topics.
“For a majority of members it serves as an introduction to many soft-skills that employers are currently looking for such as work ethic and time management,” said Arkansas State FFA Advisor Gordon Eichelberger.
There are so many options for students wanting to start their own projects to gain these valuable skills. Showing animals isn’t the only agricultural experience out there. Some students work on animal breeding or some other aspects of the industry.
“SAEs go beyond just animal projects,” Gordan said. “We have students across the state that complete research projects, grow backyard gardens, establish beehives, work for agricultural businesses, paid and unpaid, and utilize facilities on campus to gain experiences in agriculture outside of the classroom.”
There can be many challenges when starting a project. That doesn’t mean giving up is the better option. In order to see those successes of accomplishing a new hobby or project, students must come up with methods to help improve whatever they are doing.
“You never know when an animal is going to get sick or suddenly pass away and learning how to figure out ways to help them can be different each time,” said Hope.
When things don’t go right, sometimes that can be the biggest learning lesson. Finding systems that work the best can be hard at first, but with patience and perseverance there will be successes. There are several unexpected resources that may work better than others.
“The greatest benefit of starting a new project or hobby is experience one will get in setting goals and working to accomplish them,” Gordon said. “This creates so many learning opportunities for students whether they accomplish their goal or come up short.”
Starting new things is challenging for everyone, but the opportunities for growth and learning are endless. Agricultural experiences will help students develop a perspective of the industry that they wouldn’t get from the classroom.
So, if you’re thinking about picking up a new project and learning new skills, just know that the values of doing so have some of the greatest benefits.