Secret Life of Goats Helping Urban Youth

Secret Life of Goats Helping Urban Youth

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Jasmine, Mocha, and Molly live in Denver, Colorado. They spend much of their time helping educate youth in the Denver city center about farm animals and animal husbandry. This is part of The Urban Farm non-profit’s educational program. Their mission is to help remove the agricultural systems’ barriers to entry such as land access, time, location, and finances, especially for those in the inner city.

Andrea Johnson works as a teacher, but her summers are spent working at The Urban Farm with youth ages 4-12. Her goats, Jasmine, Mocha, and Molly, are 2-year-old fainting goats who reside primarily at The Urban Farm. Andrea and her children know the breeders of these goats well enough that they spent significant time with the goats from the day they were born. Andrea’s children had lots of time at home to play with the goats as they grew, even training them. Bananas and animal crackers became a favorite treat during this time.

Jasmine, Mocha, and Molly

Andrea’s 4th-grade daughter wanted to prove that a goat could be trained to be an emotional support animal, much like a dog. She spent weeks training Jasmine to walk on a leash; desensitizing her to walking on a sidewalk where she will encounter close-by traffic, dogs, and other people. Jasmine was hand-raised and bottle-fed. She bonded very well with Andrea’s daughter and took to the training like a champ. However, the experiment was not a success as goats cannot be fully house-trained and would need to wear a diaper.

Molly was also bottle-fed because her mother rejected her at birth. When Molly was born, her abdominal wall was not completely closed. She needed surgery to put some of her internal organs back in and close the abdomen. A veterinarian was able to do this so Molly is able to live a normal life, but hand-raising was the best option for her because of these circumstances. Andrea’s children had lots of fun with this and would give her rides in the wheelbarrow like a doll in a stroller.


Mocha was the first to officially join Andrea’s family. When Mocha was still young Andrea’s children tried to teach her to be a yoga goat. She still likes to try to jump on people. All three goats were finally bought in just August of this year although Andrea’s family had been caring for them in many ways for the past 2 years.


Andrea’s living situation does not allow for goats on her property, so she boards them with The Urban Farm. This is a win-win situation because these incredibly friendly goats are perfect for The Urban Farm’s programs. Fainting goats are the perfect size for being around children and have wonderful quirky personalities. These three are only about a level two on fainting ability, so they don’t faint as easily as others. Andrea uses this for education about ethical breeding practices as well as breeding for specific traits.

The Urban Farm has many different livestock and farm animals including chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, horses, cows, and bunnies. The chickens are one of the favorites on the farm as well as the goats. The pen that houses Andrea’s goats is one of the pens in which the youth are freely allowed in to meet the animals. They are so mellow in temperament and size that the farm caretakers trust them to behave well.

Child with Jasmine and baby Casper

Annie Fehr has been the education director at The Urban Farm for the past year after interning and working in other positions over the past few years. She helps organize field trips for schools in the area, most of which are Title-1 schools. Schools that cannot afford a field trip have the option of the farm coming to them. Being in the inner city, many of these youth have never seen farm animals in person. This is even more significant when you learn that many of their parents came from another country where livestock animals were common. This gives a wonderful connection to their roots as these first and second-generation US citizens learn about the animals their parents used to raise.

At Urban Farm.

Being around any animal has therapeutic benefits. Through The Urban Farm’s education program these youth are taught how to be gentle with the animals as well as where and how to touch them. They learn about where food comes from. They also build confidence as they learn about and interact with the animals. Andrea’s goats are important in this factor because their size and horns can be quite intimidating to those not familiar with goats. However, Annie can see how the children’s confidence grows as they interact with the goats and lose their fear.


The Urban Farm is open to the public and has general admission on Fridays and Saturdays. Schools can book field trips or a traveling farm visit. As a community-based working farm, they welcome volunteers.

Visit The Urban Farm at

Originally published in the January/February 2023 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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