The crisp coolness of fall is finally here and with it the children of our community have joyously ventured back to school for another year.
Well, maybe the kids weren't quite joyful as they made their way back into the classrooms. But back they went. And learn they must.
They'll learn all the basics: reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, social studies and social standings.
They'll attend art classes, music classes and participate in sports. Maybe somewhere in there they'll find a subject or activity that actually does bring them joy and it will lead them toward a future career goal.
If their passion is animals though, specifically pets, they probably won't find a class offering lessons on pet care and responsibility.
That's where our Humane & Character Education program steps in.
Educating children about the importance of animal welfare and teaching them compassion for animals offers a sustainable solution to problems like animal abuse, neglect and pet over-population through spay & neuter awareness.
Students participating in the program are presented with seven monthly lessons throughout the school year and have the opportunity to earn a completion certificate at the end of the school year.
This fantastic program has been teaching valuable lessons in Aiken County elementary school classrooms for ten years now and is run entirely by volunteers of the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare.
This year, we've had requests from more teachers than usual who would like to offer the program to their classrooms, and we need more volunteers to fulfill those requests. Won't you consider joining this valuable team of volunteers?
A teaching background or experience is not necessary and all of the easy-to-follow lesson plans are provided. Supplies are also provided and volunteers are welcome to supplement the lessons with extra supplies or fun handouts for the students.
The lessons are designed to be fun and engaging for the students, and in some instances (with teacher permission) volunteers can bring their own well behaved pets to help demonstrate the lessons.
As a Humane Education volunteer, you will be assigned to a kindergarten through third grade classroom that you will visit once per month during the school year to present a series of seven lessons focusing on pet care, responsible pet ownership, respect for animals as well as humans, understanding wildlife, and dog safety.
The dates and times for these lessons are set by you and your assigned classroom teacher.
Most lessons require about an hour of lesson preparation, plus about an hour of classroom teaching. All together, that's about two hours of your time each month.
This program has been very well received by the students, teachers, and administrators at each school.
Our volunteers overwhelmingly report their classroom experiences as both positive and rewarding with a noted improvement in the students’ understanding of what responsible pet ownership involves.
Plus, there are the stories. Ask a child a question about their pets, or animals in general and they are more than happy to share their tales of rescuing a dog from the side of the road, or a litter of kittens left by the back fence.
The lessons you teach are sure to stick with them as they continue their education, and will hopefully influence their decisions and actions in their experiences with animals and relationships with both pets and people.
Arthur Schopenhauer wrote "Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character". You can be part of developing that compassionate character in today's students and tomorrow's leaders. Please join us!
To learn more, or sign up, please visit LetLoveLive.org/volunteer; call 803-648-6863, ext. 2 or email Volunteer@LetLoveLive.org.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She previously held the role of Volunteer Coordinator and has a background in business administration. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her husband, Tom, mother, Cheryl and three adopted cats: Bastian, Eddie and Luna.