Goat therapy helps students lower exam stress level

Some East Carolina University students were pleasantly surprised to see goats in the library on Monday afternoon.

A baby goat is held in the library courtyard for goat therapy during exam week.

A baby goat is held in the library courtyard for goat therapy during exam week. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Goats in the library? Yes, ECU Academic Library Services partnered with The Painted Farmer, based in Lucama near Wilson, for a traveling goat exhibit at the library. The pet therapy experience was designed to give students an enjoyable, carefree break from studying for their end-of-semester exams.

“Really surprised,” freshman Madison Magaha said. “Even just seeing them turn the corner (upon entering the library) was so exciting. … I’ve never interacted with a goat like this, so this has been a new experience.”

The goats, however, were inside the library for brief moments. They were walked immediately to the outdoor courtyard for students to pet and hold. There was a set of twin baby goats joined by a few older goats.

“This has been a blast,” student Zachary Allen said. “I’ve loved handling them. I think goats, like most animals, kind of work at their own speed. It’s a speed that is very different than you get during exam week. We’re just kind of chilling here and (the goats) are not worried about exams. They are just worried about eating some hay and getting as many pets as possible.”

Hundreds of students were willing to pet. It was similar, but a little less traditional than the previous week, when a therapy dog greeted students in the front lobby for a relaxing pet therapy experience. Laupus Health Sciences Library used a therapy bird for pet therapy.

Goats from The Painted Farmer visited campus to provide pet therapy for ECU students

Goats from The Painted Farmer visited campus to provide pet therapy for ECU students. (Photo by Ronnie Woodward)

ECU libraries also have provided snacks to students. ECU baseball and Campus Recreation and Wellness assisted with passing out snacks to students.

“Students are our primary focus,” Academic Library Services director Jan Lewis said. “Throughout the year, we provide expert research assistance, group and individual instruction, space for group work and quiet study, as well as the technology, electronic resources — full-text online journal articles, ebooks, streaming media — and primary resources students need. The energy level definitely rises at the end of the semester, as students pile into the library to finish projects and papers and study for exams. We know this can be a hectic time, so we try to provide some fun activities to show that we care and relieve stress. Pet therapy with dogs and an occasional cat has been popular for years. This year we added goats to the menagerie. All of us want to help ECU students succeed and encourage students to contact us for assistance or make suggestions as to how we can better meet their needs.”

Students who attended goat therapy ranged from freshmen to seniors. Many of them simply wanted a lighthearted distraction from exam prep.

“It’s just a good little break,” freshman Parker Woodall said while holding a baby goat Monday. “I have two exams tomorrow I’ve been stressing over a lot, and I didn’t know this was going on until I saw a bunch of people here. I walked out and heard the goats. I can tell you right now it’s working (to lower stress).”