The 65 children brushed the five animals in three separate half-hour sessions, and gave them carrot treats in the playground.
Members of the Philly Goat Project made their way from Awbury Arboretum in Germantown to preschoolers at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill last Wednesday to show firsthand how eco-friendly the four-legged animals can be.
Diana Rodgers, interim preschool director, was on hand with her two children, who attend the school, and talked about the need for kids to interact with animals.
“We usually pick one theme a month to focus on and we’ve been reading about farmyard animals and how they give birth every spring,” said Rodgers, who lives in Chestnut Hill. “We teach them about sustainability, and with the goats they really get it with experiential learning.”
The 65 children brushed the five animals in three separate half-hour sessions, and gave them carrot treats in the playground. Some of the goats climbed onto playground equipment with kids like Izzy Porco.
“We watched them eat and then poop,” said Porco, 5, who brushed a goat named Clementine. The children watched a presentation earlier in the day that showed the four compartments that make up the stomach of a goat.
Pat Remis, who has volunteered to handle the goats over the past three months, loves being with the animals.
“It’s fantastic to be with creatures who are so loving and unique,” Remis said.
Founded in 2018, the Philly Goat Project is “an urban agricultural nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing experiences to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity,” says co-founder Karen Krivit, who created the project with her daughter.
According to their website, goats are able to eat up to 25 percent of their body weight per day in roughage. They specialize in eating leafy, overgrown vines, including poison ivy, and can stand on their hind legs to reach plants as high as 6 feet tall.
“We try to focus a lot on sustainable education, getting people outside and getting them involved in nature,” said Krivit, who is a clinical social worker with 30 years of experience working with families and individuals challenged with disabilities and trauma.
“We were impressed with the qualities goats have, and the goats help with some of [these challenges],” said Krivit, who added that the program’s Instagram account has 10,000 followers.
Parent Scott Winters watched the goats and children interact.
“I think it’s spectacular to see kids having so much fun and learning. It’s been a wonderful and different experience for them,” Winters said.
Krivit said the funds they received from the school visit will help offset program costs.
“When schools like PCCH invite us in, it helps to fund free programs throughout the city for children who are less fortunate,” Krivit said.
Visitors are welcome to watch the goats graze from behind a fence at the Farm at Awbury Arboretum. One-on-one and group visits can be arranged through the organization website phillygoatproject.org.