Back to School With OHS – Up Close with Humane Education

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How Humane Education is Fostering a More Humane Society

As children head back to school this fall, a lesson plan is taking shape at the Oregon Humane Society. Two OHS humane educators and their canine assistants plan classroom visits, after-school clubs and group tours. But it’s the lessons behind these activities that will have a lasting effect on young people.

OHS’s unique approach to humane education is grounded in character building. In addition to learning the basics of how to care for and interact with pets, children are given an opportunity to celebrate their inherent love for animals.

“Being recognized for their kindness and compassion helps children become more confident,” says Rachel Gene, OHS Education Manager. “Connecting with other like-minded young people also gives them a sense of belonging.”

After participating in humane education activities, children report feeling self-assured and more empowered to be a voice and advocate for pets, now and into the future.

The tiny but mighty Humane Education team reaches a lot of young hearts and minds. In 2018, more than 165 classrooms were visited, reaching more than 4,879 kids. This is just a fraction of the impact of their work. In total, the Humane Education team reached more than 4,879 youth and 235 adults in 2018.

A typical classroom visit might include discussions about dog body language, jobs that dogs do to help people, or careers working with pets. The after-school club takes place at the OHS shelter and gives kids the chance to interact with the pets, make toys and enrichment tools for the shelter animals, and socialize with other like-minded young people. “Friendships blossom at the club, and it often leads kids to become more deeply engaged at OHS by becoming a youth volunteer,” adds Rachel.

Meet Maddie, OHS Canine Educator

Canines have been an important part of the humane education team since 1992. Maddie, a six-year-old golden retriever mix, is the current captain of the canine education team. Kids and adults are instantly drawn to her during school visits.

“The interaction between children and Maddie is very special,” says Barb Cushway, Humane Education Specialist. “Maddie has a way of weaving her way into the hearts of everyone she meets, opening the door for meaningful discussions about compassion.”

She gets paid in biscuits and belly rubs, which is a-ok with her. Maddie is currently mentoring future canine educator Bark Vader.

The children of today will become our leaders, advocates, adopters and donors of tomorrow. Through education and empowerment, OHS is ensuring the next generation has the skills to create a more humane society.



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