Among the numerous projects reported to the national office are many that connect to animals. School groups have adopted wild animals, held bake sales for animal shelters, exercised animals at the humane society office, collected supplies for animal shelters, raised money to give to animal hospitals, assisted in maintaining facilities at bird sanctuaries, and collected food and blanket for homeless animals (as well as homeless humans – we’re animals too, after all).
Working with animals is both a career and service opportunity to explore with many students. Consider a project that students will enjoy but also supports your curriculum in the sciences and social studies. Even students with allergies to or fears of certain animals can participate in meaningful ways. (Note: this is a precautionary reminder to check on these items before visiting any local animal facility).
Here are some of the organizations and Web sites used by schools service opportunities. Please bear in mind, some of these sites maintain highly political and/or controversial content. No endorsement of the perspectives shared on these sites is implied by this listing, which is solely intended to provide the broadest possible set of resources for members.
- The National Wildlife Federation (www.NWF.org) offers the opportunity to adopt a wild animal for support (not as a fellow resident of your school).
- Heifer International (www.heifer.org) has become a popular gift-giving alternative for many students. The site also includes information on how to reach out internationally to provide assistance.
- Free The Children (www.FreeTheChildren.org) was started by students to focus on their desire to help young people reach their full potential and create sustainable solutions for communities overseas. You can select to donate funds (as little as $50) to provide an animal to families in need.
- The Point (www.thepoint.com) is a relatively new site that features the tagline, “Make Something Happen.” You can browse their “campaigns” for “Animal Friends” and get some ideas for your chapter based on what others are doing around the nation. The site also contains some interesting resources for becoming “social citizens” online.
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA, www.peta.org) sponsors a kid-friendly section of their site at www.petakids.org. The main site has some content that is intended for adults. Please be aware of this before sending out this link. The PETAkids site offers a variety of resources that are “creating an animal-friendly world” for all.
- For information regarding animal rights, visit www.change.org. Articles on this site include “Top 10 Ways to Make a Difference for Animals” and links to stories about animal rights activists around the nation.
- Kind News Online (www.kindnews.org) uses the tagline “Speak Up for Animals in Need.” The format is kid friendly and features a variety of stories about young students successfully reaching out to help animals.
- The American Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Animals (ASPCS, www.aspca.org) has an “Ambassadors” program that provides opportunities for students and schools to plan events in support of animals. Similar resources can be found at www.humanesociety.org
- For resources to share with your families, www.AnimalShelter.org provides guidance on adopting homeless dogs or cats from local animal shelters. Not everyone has had a pet at home, so making sure your school community is aware of the responsibilities involved in such adoptions is a service to animals.
- National Geographic is home to some of the greatest wildlife photographers in the world. Visit http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals for a variety of images and resources to assist your activities. Google Images (http://images.google.com) is another good source for images for posters or PowerPoint presentations by your students.
- Finally, if you’re looking for webcasts and videos associated with zoos around the world, visit www.OurEarth.org. The site, designed by graduate students at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, helps high school students find colleges and universities with environmental degree programs, but also includes links to major zoos and aquaria where your students can watch animals live. It’s just a fun resource to explore and share with your colleagues.
As you can see, there are many, many resources online if your students are interested in pursuing projects with an animal theme. You can start by contacting your local animal shelter or animal hospital to see what needs they may have. A shelter search tool can be found at www.animals.com. Who knows how many budding veterinarians you may have in your school right now who will be moved to service through one or more of these activities. Good luck!