Goats Fed Campus Sustainability At Marylhurst University

Mini and Big are the perfect employees. Their work ethic is matchless, and their appetite is endless.

These two goats quickly established themselves as the faces on Marylhurst University’s on-campus sustainability program. The relentless duo was set loose in a field of blackberry or ivy and one could watch it disappear. There was one precaution, though. Be sure you had them inside the kind of fence they couldn’t eat.

“They ate through the previous fence,” said Eric Stoermer, facilities engineer/energy manager. “They went down Highway 43, and we had to wrangle them.”

Among the goat wranglers was none other than university president Judi Johansen.

That indicates just how important Mini and Big were to the sustainability at Marylhurst University. They were the big goats on campus.

The idea of using goats instead of dangerous chemicals to get rid of unwanted vegetation emerged from the organization called MUSAC (Marylhurst University Sustainability Action Committee), led by instructor Kirsten Newberry-Gauther. The group has some other fine ideas, too, like reducing energy usage and phasing out chemicals.

“Those things are done behind the scenes,” Stoermer said. “The goats were out where the public could see them.”

The goating of Marylhurst came about because right next door at Mary’s Woods a new goat business was starting called Grub N’ Goats. Mini and Big aced their first test.

“They ate everything down to the ground,” Stoermer said. “Stalks, thorns and stickers. You can’t ask for more than that.”

A side value of the goats was their academic impact, particularly in Marylhurst’s green MBA program. They were almost like adjunct professors.

“If we’re going to teach about sustainability, we need to practice it at Marylhurst,” said Bob Hanks, director of the business and real estate programs. “My goal is that what we use on campus can be like a lab in our classrooms.”

Stoermer added, “We thought the goats would fit our mission really well.”


Marylhurst University’s  online MBA in Sustainable Business program positions graduates to make a dramatic impact at their company and their greater communities. This is one of the few truly sustainable programs in the country, and one of the only which provides its content online. The online curriculum offers four distinct Green MBA concentrations, and was developed specifically to meet the needs of busy working professionals. We also offer a fully online Bachelor’s in Sustainable Business and two Certificates in Sustainable Business, one that requires a bachelor’s degree and one that requires a master’s degree.

This article was originally published by the Lake Oswego Review and is republished with permission from Marylhurst University.

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