A Dubuque university is inviting a herd of goats onto its campus, but don't assume it's exclusively for petting purposes.

To do so, Clarke University has partnered with Goats on the Go Dubuque and Cox Springs Farm of Peosta. Over the course of the summer, goats will be at Clarke University eating invasive plants and overgrowth around campus. It's part of Clarke's commitment to sustainable land management.

Having goats consume the excess negates the use of harmful chemicals or heavy machinery, which not only could disrupt campus activities, but also be bad for the environment.

Peg Harbaugh, co-owner of Cox Springs Farm along with her husband, Tim, and their family, told Clarke University's website:

When managed properly, goats can control noxious weeds like poison ivy, wild parsnip, honeysuckle, thistle, and multiflora rose. They are browsers, not grazers, which makes them the perfect choice when conservation is the key.

The goats will indeed be around for students to pet, but they are workers first and foremost. Not too dissimilar from licensed emotional support animals, or even K9 dogs, they are animals trained to do a particular job. Being cute while doing it is just an added plus.

Clarke University welcomed the goats this week by hosting a meet-and-greet, so to speak, on the front lawn of Wahlert Atrium. Accompanying the goat petting zoo was The Crepe Iron, a local food truck complementing the experience with some delicious food.

Land management is merely one component of Clarke University's commitment to sustainability. Clarke has also adopted several initiatives around campus, including a "tray-free" Dining Hall with a direct emphasis on composting and water conservation with updated appliances. More information about Clarke University's sustainability efforts can be found here.

Meanwhile, Goats on the Go is a grazing business found in several cities and states. Their goal is managing invasive plants with conservation processes in mind and "goats doing the work they love: eating." Cox Springs Farm in Peosta is also home to donkeys, Labrador puppies, chickens, and various other animals.

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