Alpaca Farm and Fiber Day Camps and Workshops

2007 Annual Report for FNC06-599

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2006: $2,992.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Catherine Stickann
Sycamore Creek Farm

Alpaca Farm and Fiber Day Camps and Workshops


We built a Tuff Shed building on our property to be used as a Fiber Cottage, Classroom and Farm store. We planned and ran three one-week sessions of Alpaca and Nature Day Camp. Our campers learned about daily care of the alpacas, halter training the alpacas, and how to spin and weave with their fiber. We taught the campers about the pastures and the plants we grow on the farm. They experienced our creek and cast animal tracks.

Money from the grant was used to advertise the day-camps and other events and for costs associates with the camp, education program, and workshop brochures and postcards. The weaving and spinning equipment was purchased to be used by the day campers and included a Triangle loom and frame, 2 spinning wheels and extra bobbins. Not included in the grant was a large floor room that I purchased used. The campers’ notebooks were funded with grant money. They were three-ring binders with many informative pages for the campers to use during camp and as a reference after camp ended. Grant money was also spent on processing supplies for the spinning, weaving and dyeing we did. I had a co-counselor at the day-camp and the SARE Grant money paid for her. Our camp was professionally photographed by Jacob Stickann and a portion of his services were paid for with grant money.

On September 15, 2007 we had an education program for alpaca breeders and persons thinking of getting into the alpaca business. Dr. Dusty Nagy from the MU Vet School, Don Day from the University of MO Extension Office, and I presented topics of interest to the group. Dr. Nagy spoke on Owning Alpacas and Medical Considerations at all Stages; Mr. Day spoke on Walking the Farm, Assessing Your Land and Building Resources; I spoke on what to look for in Fiber When Purchasing Animals.

On September 29, in conjunction with National Alpaca Day we held an open house which attracted new and old day-campers.

I learned so much from this. I learned about working with a county Zoning Board, which made us widen our driveway. In addition they made us obtain a conditional use permit for our property, which we did. I learned that activities such as these required additional insurance, which we obtained. The day camp sessions were not full, but we felt this was due to getting the advertising out so late. We taught all campers how to work with alpacas, and to spin and weave with their fiber. August proved to be too hot for our day camp. We had to move the camp inside my own home. We found there to be a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for the camp. According to the exit surveys that the campers filled out on their last day and surveys mailed to the parents, the participants responded 100% favorable in evaluating their experience.

As a result of this project, we were given news coverage in the local newspaper which included a front page story that contained pictures and continued on the back page. We were thrilled with a Sunday two-page story that was also online and various other insertions. The value of this coverage exceeded $4000.

The Educational event for breeders was a success. We have gained several students for fiber workshops that I am now teaching. Although the open house was valuable in picking future and returning day-campers for next summer, having it on the National Alpaca Day meant the other breeders we had hoped to attract to our farm were tied up at their own farms activities. This year we will pick another day.

Summer of 2008 we are having three one-week day camp sessions with the last one ending on the first of August. Per request of one of our 2007 campers, we are expanding our age range to include thirteen year olds. Our advertising for the camps will start the first of March, which is much earlier than last year. Since we have interest from our past campers to return this summer, we will be doing new weaving projects. We are planning some beginning and intermediate instruction in all day-camp areas. We anticipate more day-campers, so I will purchase another spinning wheel. Since we will be running the camp this year without much grant money we have increased the camp fee from $150 to $165 to help us cover our costs.

We are now offering adult and children’s beginning spinning and weaving classes. I have several students at this point in time.

We have plans for an annual education program and open house. The dates and speakers are to be determined.

We have been approached by another farm that offers children’s programs to work with them. We will be looking into the possibilities.

In October, I was privileged to speak at The Women and Minority Farmer Workshop put on by the University of Missouri Extension in front of 35 participants. After the presentations I fielded several questions about the program. Another participant has expressed interest in collaborating on a children’s program in the future.

In November I spoke at the 2007 Farmer’s Forum at the National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference. There were about 10 participants in the audience. Though a small group, I had a good response with several wanting to speak to me further and at least one probable camper for 2008.

I will be presenting a power point presentation about the camp at the 2008 MOPACA Invitational Alpaca Show in March. There we will have our PPP CD’s for attendees to take home with them. This is a large alpaca show that attracts alpaca breeders from the North Central Region as well as other regions of the country.

I hope to have coverage on a local TV show summer 2008 about the Alpaca and Nature Day Camp.

Objectives/Performance Targets


Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes