When I first tell people that I am a Humane Educator at HAWS, many don't really understand what it is I do. I believe some of them initially think I care for animals; cleaning cages, feeding, etc. Because I'm also a Certified Pet Dog Trainer some people think I work with the dogs in that capacity. In reality I do neither of those things as part of my job description, although there have been times where I have done both of those things as a part of my job.
To confuse the issue more is the fact that there really isn't a definitive role that all Humane Educators play. Most Humane Educators work at animal shelters, and I believe that most of their focus is on the education of children. Because animal shelters have limited funding and tight budgets many Humane Educators are volunteers, or do education as a part-time job, or in addition to other duties.
Humane Education, as far as I'm concerned, is about helping people find a connection with the animals we share the world with. If we can find empathy, understanding and a relationship with animals, we are more likely to treat them humanely and responsibly. HAWS ultimate goal is to help people make better choices before they bring their pets home, and give them knowledge and a relationship so that they are likely to keep their pets. This translates in fewer animals being surrendered to our shelter -- our goal is actually to educate ourselves out of jobs.
When I first took this job almost 5 years ago the focus was on the education of children. While I still do a lot of interactions with kids, we have also transitioned to the education adults. Some of the programs that I run here (with the help of fantastic education committee members, volunteers and fellow staff!) are summer and winter camps for kids, tours for scout troops, visits to schools and daycare centers, adult education seminars and speeches on a variety of topics at businesses or organizations. (For more information about our education department visit our Humane Education page)
My job is at times a lot of work. Most of the time it's a lot of fun. I get to spend time with animals, and share my passion with my fellow humans of all ages. What could be better? My hope is that this blog will allow me to share the experiences I have and some of the wonderful people I get to meet when I'm doing my job.