A Grown-Up’s Guide to the New Humane Education & Engagement Center

By Ann Ensminger, Senior Director of Impact & Programs

At Animal Friends, we envision a humane and compassionate future for every animal friend. Whether a person shares their life with a companion who is their animal friend, a person who is a friend to animals, or both, we recognize the importance of the future. And the next generation of animal advocates can support this vision with our help.

We are committed to cultivating, nurturing and supporting our future animal advocates. So, we invite families with children and teens to visit the new Humane Education & Engagement Center at Animal Friends! Lindsay Woge, Animal Friends’ new Humane Educator and codeveloper of the new center, shared the following. “Through interactive, self-guided activities, young animal lovers are invited to discover what makes dogs, cats and rabbits who they are, with the goals of recognizing our similarities, celebrating what makes these other-than-human beings different from us and learning how we can support a humane and compassionate future for them.”

The rotating activities and themes in the Humane Education & Engagement Center encourage young guests to be curious, to apply their senses, to use their voice and to show their thinking. From designing a dream animal shelter to writing a letter to a legislator to request the sponsorship of bills in support of humane activities for animals, visitors will reflect not only on amazing abilities and various needs of companion animals, but also how we can be champions for them. To build this community of kindness, visitors will be encouraged to leave a response about their experience on our participatory wall – selfies are encouraged!

The goals of the Humane Education & Engagement Center are the following:

  • To be a destination for children, youth and families to engage with activities, informal educators and each other, while enriching their experience at Animal Friends.
  • To provide a trusted resource for age-appropriate, accurate, credible and up-to-date best practices in companion animal care.
  • To serve as an incubator for the next generation of animal advocates, where the values of kindness, care and compassion are modeled, explored and cultivated.
  • To be a model for humane education, embracing equity, accessibility, inclusivity, sustainability and advocates for animal friends.

We plan to reach these goals at Animal Friends through the following elements from the Institute for Humane Education. We encourage visitors to:

  • Acquire knowledge by preparing them to be enthusiastic, curious and effective researchers who are able to obtain accurate information about interconnected challenges and discern facts from opinion and conjecture.
  • Think deeply by developing their critical, systems, strategic and creative thinking skills.
  • Make compassionate and responsible choices by fostering wonder and appreciation for the natural world, empathy for people and animals and commitment to doing the most good and least harm.
  • Focus on solutions by providing opportunities to collaboratively engage in problem-solving, implement ideas, and assess and improve upon them.

For each theme presented through the Humane Education & Engagement Center, the visitor will:

DO: Visitors will learn by doing. They will engage in hands-on experiences that are appealing and accessible to a variety of ages and ability ranges.
REFLECT: Visitors will be given the opportunity to process what they’ve learned.
RESPOND: Visitors will express and share what they have learned.
CONNECT: Visitors will think about how what they learned applies to the “bigger big” beyond Animal Friends and beyond home.
EXTEND: Visitors will share what one thing they will do or do differently once they leave Animal Friends.

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