Area teen to lead national association

By Josette Keelor

Recently elected president of the Junior American Boer Goat Association, 17-year-old Bethany Gochenour of Lebanon Church brings years of experience to the office.

Representing members from around the United States, the rising Strasburg High School senior said as president she will run monthly conference calls with other board officers and set meeting agendas.

“I was really excited because I know what a great opportunity it is and just how cool it is,” Bethany said.

In addition to president, a youth coordinator and nine other board directors including a vice president, secretary and reporter were elected last month.

Last year Bethany served as a director on the board.

The American Boer Goat Association’s annual membership of more than 7,000 makes it the largest Boer association in the world, according to its website, Annually its members register more than 75,000 head of goats, known for their white body and red head.

Bethany, who plans a career in agriculture education, was 9 when she joined the JABGA and the Lebanon Church 4-H Club in 2006. She joined the Signal Knob Middle School chapter of the Future Farmers of America in 2008.

This summer she has kept busy so far attending the Virginia Future Farmers of America state convention in Blacksburg and planning for a speech at the Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers Summer Expo on Aug. 1 in an effort to win a scholarship.

Every year she and her brother Ethan, 14, show animals at the Shenandoah County Fair in Woodstock. She shows cattle and he shows hogs. They plan to show eight goats this year, to sell for meat or for use in other 4-H projects.

“I like raising goats because it’s a lot of fun,” Bethany said. “They all have different personalities and they’re fun to be around. They’re definitely not boring, that’s for sure.”

In an April 25 letter to the National 4-H Congress Selection Committee, Shenandoah County 4-H extension agent Carol B. Nansel successfully recommended Bethany as a Virginia delegate to attend the 4-H Congress. She praised Bethany’s agricultural leadership activities over the years. Bethany and three other Shenandoah County students were among 13 of 20 applicants chosen to attend the congress at Virginia Tech.

“As you can see from her resume,” Nansel wrote, “there isn’t much in 4-H that Bethany hasn’t done.”

Bethany has been elected to two terms as a youth representative on the Shenandoah County 4-H/FFA Livestock Show and Sale Committee, which requires her, among other tasks, to assist with show coordination, serve as show announcer, lead showmanship workshops, contract and mentor new exhibitors and remediate conflicts in the barns.

Bethany also traveled to the Dominican Republic two years ago for a 4-H international program.

After her term with JABGA ends, Bethany said she can run once more before her 18th birthday. Presidents need to be at least 14 years old, she said.

Bethany succeeds President Sarah Brend of Oklahoma, whom she met at last year’s leadership conference. This year’s conference will be July 14-17 in Manhattan, Kansas. Bethany also plans to attend her first face-to-face meeting as president in Indianapolis on July 19 and 20.

Being elected president is a “big honor,” Bethany said. “Before I was just on the board.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or

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