Goats come to School: An Educating for Sustainability Story with a Happy Ending

goatsOne day last summer Patty Collins, fifth-and-sixth-grade teacher at Reading (Vermont) Elementary School and an alumna of Antioch’s Educating for Sustainability MEd program, was walking her golden retriever past her school, when the dog waded into a sprawling patch of poison ivy. She realized that she had complained about the poison ivy for eleven years, ever since she had come to Reading. “No one has been able to solve that problem, because it borders an ecologically sensitive area, and chemicals were out of the question.”

The next day she asked her class a question: How can poison ivy be safely eradicated? Their reply: Blank looks.

Each day, she simply asked the same question. “After two weeks of no answers, they finally began to get embarrassed,” she said. Possible solutions trickled in. Collins asked them to analyze each solution for practicality and cost—their budget was $12 from the student activities fund. They considered black plastic, boiling water, vinegar and salt, none of which fit the criteria. Finally one student asked “Do goats eat poison ivy?”

Analysis showed that, if the goats were borrowed, it was affordable. “Within a week, we had three goats,” Collins said. The whole town went “goat crazy…”

Read about how the whole community got involved and the happy ending to Goats Come to School at this link!

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