Rescue Animals Steal Hearts of Ag Students


Madelynn Orosz

Survey Results: Pearl in first place, Scottie in second and Babu in third. Let’s hear their stories!

Madelynn Orosz, Reporter

WOODBURY — The Woodbury FFA is home to many animals of all species from turtles to horses and everything in between. However, students have their favorites to work with and observe.

The ag program obtains its animals from donations, rescues, adoption and by purchasing them. However, students seem to gravitate towards the rescue animals. Pearl, Scottie and Babu are the top picks in the eyes of the ag department.


Ashley Blood, freshman, poses with Pearl the Alpaca after haltering her to go outside. “I always choose to work with her [Pearl] because she always seems to get along with me and when I bring her out of the pen we always have a bonding moment.” (Ashley Blood)
Pearl the Alpaca is one of Nonnewaug’s oldest residents at a ripe old age of 22, turning 23 in January. She joined the NHS education farm in 2019, and she has been living in the large animal lab and back pasture ever since. 

Her popularity comes from many factors, including her “old lady” mindset that students and staff enjoy watching. She seems to just mind her own business. 

Kathleen Gorman, agricultural production teacher, talked about how Pearl impacts the program. 

Pearl is in the geriatric [old] age level,” Gorman said. “Educationally, she teaches students what it means to commit to an animal for a lifetime. Many individuals today get animals and do not understand the lifetime commitment that they sign up for.

“We see the cute baby and don’t fully understand that someday it will grow into a Pearl with medical and physical needs changing as they get older,” added Gorman. 

Pearl is also made popular by videos of her spitting when she gets nervous. While it is not ideal behavior, it teaches students about important aspects of animal management — flight zones. 

Flight zones are the area around an animal where they feel comfortable with people interacting with them. Some animals, like Lambie the sheep, have small flight zones and enjoy lots of hugs and cuddles, while Pearl enjoys being watched from a distance.

“[Pearl] teaches students the importance of socialization in animals,” Gorman said. “She did not have that when she was young, and still today she is timid and can show aggression to strangers. She is the ‘master class’ of animal handling in classes; if you can catch a Pearl you can catch any animal on our education farm.” 

Pearl has impacted many lives in and outside of NHS in her short time being at the school, not only in the ag classes but also with the community. 

Next time you take a lap outside on a mask break or work with her in class, make sure you say hi and give her some love. 


Scottie the horse is another staple of the ag program. He is estimated to be around 20 years old.  

“He was initially a foster through the state of Connecticut; then the [ag] program adopted him,” said Marisa Bedron, equine science teacher.

Aurora Proulx, senior poses with her favorite school horse, Scottie after he returned from his training in the fall. Scottie received extra training so he wouldn’t be as tense or nervous with not being able to see half of his side. (Woodbury FFA Instagram)

“He is very sweet. I have the best bond with him out of all the horses,” said Aurora Proulx, senior equine science student. 

Scottie is unique in many ways — not only is he the tallest animal on campus, but he is also the only animal with one eye. 

Scottie lost his eye from a bad eye infection he had while being fostered. It was very painful for him and was not responding to treatment. The decision was made to remove the eye and he has been living comfortably ever since. 

“Whether it’s animals or people, it’s important to understand that everyone has differences and similarities,” said Bedron. “The similarities bring us together and our differences allow us to grow and understand other perspectives. Much like Scottie must compensate for only being able to see on one side, those that work around him have to remember to accommodate for him.”

Scottie serves as an inspiration to students showing how they can overcome anything and find success and a purpose. 


Babu is an 11-year-old Sulcata Tortoise who is the biggest addition to the small animal lab for the 2021-22 school year. He came to Nonnewaug from The Turtle Room, a non-profit organization that helps turtles and tortoises find forever homes. 

The Sulcata Tortoise is a popular pet in America, as they start off as cute babies. However, many do not realize that they do not stay small and become quite large. Many end up having to rehome them, according to the San Diego Zoo website. 

Luckily, Babu ended up at Nonnewaug, and he has been embraced fondly.

Babu has become another icon in the program, being the largest resident in the small animal lab. He is a fan of bright-colored shoes and brooms, which has been key to his rise in popularity. 

Jacob Gorlewski, sophomore, and Babu are partners in the new Animal Assisted Therapy class offered at Nonnewaug. They have grown a bond since the beginning of the school year, opening up Babu to being more confident and trusting of people. (Madelynn Orosz)

Babu is also a name heard in the lunchroom, as students create collections of foods such as apples, carrots, celery and cucumbers for him to snack on. His favorite out of all of the snacks is by far the apple slices.  

Sophomore Jacob Gorlewski was one of the first people Babu opened up to since arriving at the school, and they have been good friends since. 

“He’s good to work with,” Gorlewski said. “He has taught me a lot about patience.”

Babu is a stubborn animal as the species is known to be, being food motivated. 

“He’s taught me how to stay calm when things don’t go my way, as with training animals it is always give and take [behavior],” said Gorlewski.  

Babu is another example of how misunderstood animals can end up being beloved teachers in the classroom, teaching the importance of proper care and attention. As he continues to live at NHS, his personality is shining through and more and more students and staff are falling in love with him.

There was a survey posted in the Ag Program Google Classroom that elicited responses from almost the whole program. The results of the survey determined the top three who would get featured. Stay tuned to the NHS Chief Advocate Instagram for the weekly Creature Feature to see all your favorite animals!