We Who Wear Many Hats

Sheryl Dickstein Pipe, Ph.D.

 

We Who Wear Many Hats

For his heart was in his work, and the heart giveth grace unto every art.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I recently met with a number of humane educators at a gathering of the Association of Professional Humane Educators (APHE). Aside from being a wonderful opportunity to become acquainted with colleagues from across the country, this assembly helped me better understand the varied responsibilities that humane educators share.

A big part of humane education is creating and developing plans that help deliver the message of animal welfare. As a result, conversation among the educators at the meeting immediately turned to projects. These projects ran the gamut from running summer camps to creating and maintaining museum exhibits. Then there were those educators who were busy proctoring teacher certification classes, judging contests and presiding over community committees. It quickly became clear to me just how varied a profession humane education is. So in recognition of these jacks-of-all-trades, Id like to highlight a few of the accomplishments of my fellow educators.

Off to Camp
Among the various educational projects that Kelley Anne Filson develops and manages as the humane education specialist for the San Francisco SPCA is a summer adventure camp for kids. In the summer of 2001, nearly 100 young campers met for one-week sessions to learn about cats and dogs, while teen campers learned the basics of veterinary medicine. Since many of the campers come back year after year, keeping the experience new and exciting is Filsons focus.

Of all the programs I run, camp seems to be the most effective for inspiring changes in attitudes. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the changes that each camper goes through in just one week, she says. Knowing that they are fully vested in the process of becoming a compassionate and responsible guardian [of animals] gives me hope that they will teach and inspire others to do the same.

Animals Rate with Kids
Visit the Childrens Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, and youll get more than just an educational experience. Thanks to the vision and hard work of Jane Deming, director of education for the Providence Animal Rescue League, the museums Pets & People exhibit has drawn half a million kids to its adoption center, animal hospital and book nook since its inception in 1998. The exhibit teaches children (and their parents) about the responsibilities of pet ownership, the importance of adopting animals from a shelter, spaying and neutering and more. While the activity centers of the exhibit were designed primarily for children ages five through nine, the information is just as relevant for older kids and adults.

Deming regards the Pets & People exhibit as the pinnacle of her long career working with animals. I know that Ive accomplished something that has truly made a difference for animals and people alike. That the spotlight continues to shine on the project is just icing on the cake.

Combating Violence With Education
Perhaps the newest need for our expertise is in dealing with issues of violence in our neighborhoods and across our nation, says Ann Gearhart, director of humane education at the Snyder Foundation for Animals in Baltimore, Maryland.
Gearhart is helping by serving on boards such as the Mayors Task Force to Overcome Violence, the Governors Committee on Child Abuse, the Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee and the Safe HomesSafe Pets for Turnaround program.

Gearhart believes that by incorporating animal welfare education into traditional violence prevention efforts, the message of animal advocacy will be spread to a wider audience with greater success. She says, If my legacy as a humane educator is protecting animals by building this bridge, then I have served them well.

Busy Bees
Whether its working in the classroom or at the zoo, running summer camps or speaking from the podium, humane educators are a significant piece of the animal welfare puzzle. Their work extends far beyond the limits of their titles. And I, for one, am honored to be part of such a dynamic and innovative group of professionals.

Sheryl Dickstein Pipe, Ph.D., is the director of ASPCA humane education.

© 2002 ASPCA

ASPCA Animal Watch – Spring 2002


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