With Nyack so close to the city, it’s no wonder the creative little village regularly attracts film crews and movie stars. There are probably no greater local celebrities, however, than “The Goats.”
Many have met them, and almost all have heard of them, but few of us know the importance these hooved heroes — and their partners in crime — have for the students of the Summit School at Nyack.
In alignment with the school’s mission to provide a nurturing space for students with social and emotional difficulties, Pets for Purpose was created about five years ago by animal enthusiast Anna Sicari.
What began with just a few bunnies has grown into something much larger. Anna’s team has expanded to include animal coordinator Damon Fischetti, along with two dogs, a cat, two pigs, four chickens, two ducks, and — of course — the goats, Sawyer and Scout.
“The animal program has a very positive impact on the students,” said Sicari. “Some of them have a difficult time connecting with people, especially since Covid, so when we see them petting or even talking to the animals, it shows us that they have an outlet that allows them to be more relaxed and communicative.”
Another layer of skill-building is introduced through the responsibility of caring for the animals. During school hours, the students help with all farm chores, including feeding, cleaning, brushing, and walking their four-legged friends.
Students are also afforded the opportunity to go hiking with the animals, getting a chance to enjoy the area’s fresh air, rich ecosystem, and stunning mountaintop views. All creatures big and small have a lot of fun on the trail, making it the highlight of the program.
Within the community, Sicari and Fischetti have brought the animals to other schools as well as nursing homes, libraries, birthday parties, town parades, and every other kind of event you can think of. The cheer this furry crew spreads everywhere they go is contagious.
When asked what running this program has taught her, Sicari said, “We do not have to walk through life alone. Instead, let’s take that walk together, or with an animal.”
Animals: They’re Just Like Us!
Meet Pets for Purpose’s All-Star Animal Team
Meet Sawyer. This black-and-white goat is the queen of knowing how to chill out and relax. However, she never resists chewing on a shoelace — or any article of clothing, for that matter!
Meet Scout. Despite looking nothing like her, Scout is Sawyer’s sister. At first glance, she looks like a wise old sage, but when you get to know her, you begin to realize how small goats’ brains actually are.
Meet Eleanor Pigby. Ellie is a very gentle pig who will always come to you for a treat. Her breed is called Kunekune, which means “fat and round” in the Māori language. Ellie lives up to that name quite well!
Meet Arnie. This adorable mini potbelly pig joined Summit about one year ago as a rescue. He and Ellie are both two years old, but he has a completely different personality. He loves running around like a dog with a stick in his mouth and lying down for belly rubs.
Meet Rudy and Moose. In addition to these four main farm animals, Pets for Purpose would not be as successful (or fun!) without the daily interaction of their two amazing dogs, Rudy (left) and Moose. Together, they bring such excitement to both the students and staff!
Joanne Louis-Paul is a marketing and sales professional, writer, and community builder with a heart for her native Rockland County and the Hudson Valley region at large. She loves welcoming small business owners into her ever-growing Hudson Valley United Freelancers and Entrepreneurs group on Facebook.