APHE: How did you get involved in Humane Education?
SW: I started off studying the benefits of human-animal connections when I was a school counselor trying to find creative ways to help kids with mental health issues. Then I got involved directly with HE when Pat Castellano, Animal Allies' now retired humane educator, encouraged me to get involved as a volunteer at Animal Allies. A few years later when she announced she'd be retiring, we talked about what it would like like for me to step into that role.
I also stay involved with helping at wild animal and farmed animal sanctuaries, where I can give back to individual animals and fuel my motivation for this work. The experiences make for great stories to share with kids!
Getting into HE seems for most of us to be a winding and creative journey!
APHE: How did you become involved with APHE?
SW: I was seeking a community of like-minded people who see the benefits of teaching kids compassion and connecting kids with animals and nature. I immediately registered for the upcoming conference when I saw it posted on the website!
APHE: What do you feel are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of teaching HE and what is your hope for its future?
SW: HE can be challenging because we are a sadly under-utilized field of expertise, but sorely needed! I'd love to see HE departments spread into all shelters that don't yet have one, and and for HE departments to get into more schools with our important lessons. The more we can do outside of the walls of the shelter, the better for our communities. While this task is so hard, it is extremely rewarding to watch the hearts and minds of young people open with our messages of compassion and responsibility.