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Central Missouri Humane Society: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

So far, grant funds have been used to purchase a curriculum package for the No More Bullying! program we have implemented at our shelter. The curriculum package is designed for grades 3-5 and includes a 227-page facilitator's guide with detailed lesson plans, full-color student journals, flashcard sets and a USB flash drive that includes all three grade-level materials as well as all program marketing materials. We are currently putting together Humane Care Packs to distribute to students that include educational workbooks and information, coloring books, training clickers, etc. We are also going to purchase two new donation bins that can be dropped off at schools for donation drives. We plan on bringing the bins into schools and having the kids get involved by helping us decorate them as well as educating them about the needs we have at the shelter and how the donations will impact the animals in our care. We are also working on creating a custom video to play during our classroom presentations that highlights the work we do and the services we offer to the community.
No More Bullying Curriculum Package: $600
Humane Care Packs: $300
Donation Bins: $100
Travel expenses to and from schools: $35 (so far)

We were thrilled to receive this grant through the Petfinder Foundation and Build A Bear! We believe humane education is an incredible tool that empowers youth to be empathetic and kind to all living beings. We know there is a direct correlation between people who abuse animals and people who abuse other people, and we believe that helping foster kind and compassionate attitudes towards animals may help children develop healthy and compassionate attitudes towards people as well. We have teamed up with local elementary schools in our area to bring our No More Bullying! program into classrooms all over town! We begin by educating children in the community about responsible pet ownership and the incredible and rewarding bond between animals and people.

Educating young people in the community, we believe, can change perceptions and instill meaningful and humane values for the next generation. Not only have children gained confidence in themselves, they have also become positive role models in the community and advocates for both owned and shelter animals. Many classrooms have set up donation drives for us that have directly benefited the animals in our care. We have also had many children from our classroom visits join our Reading to Pets program. The shelter can be a very stressful place and this program helps to reduce anxiety and bring comfort to the animals while building confidence and literacy skills in children.

Many of the children involved in classroom presentations have come to the shelter with their families to view our animals, and several of them have ended up adopting a pet from us! The children involved in this program are such great advocates for the shelter and seem to really enjoy learning about what we do and how they can help. This program has also helped to change perceptions in the community and educate the public about the important work that we do and why we need their support.

How many pets did this grant help?

Countless pets! Not only did this grant help pets in our shelter, it also helped many owned pets in the community!

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

During a recent classroom visit, our humane-education coordinator mentioned our Reading to Pets program and encouraged the kids to get involved. We sent home information about the program and a family came in the next week with their young son to read to our pets for the first time. He had brought with him a book from home and shyly walked into the cat room and started petting kittens. His mother shared with us that he was having a difficult time learning to read and was very self-conscious about it. He couldn’t read aloud in the classroom and became anxious if someone was listening while he was trying to read.

All of a sudden, the mother looked up and saw her son sitting on the floor in our cat colony surrounded by kittens. He was comfortably reading aloud to the kittens without stumbling over his words, and the kittens were happily lounging in his lap listening to the story. The kittens have all since been adopted and the young boy still comes in to read to our animals.

Several months ago, we received an emaciated dog who had been found living in a dark and disgusting garage with her eight puppies. She was very timid with people, but warmed up quickly in her loving foster home. Her eight puppies grew quickly and found new homes of their own. One of those puppies was adopted by our humane educator and is now about as spoiled as any dog could be! Less than a year old, Elsa is an incredibly sweet dog who gets along with everyone and loves meeting new people.

Not only is Elsa is a fantastic shelter ambassador, she is now in training to become a Classroom Companion. She will attend classroom presentations with our humane educator and interact with children in grades 3-5. In addition to being incredibly sweet and gentle, she is also a pit-bull mix, which we hope will help dispel negative stereotypes surrounding the breed. We have found that there are many children in the community who are actually fearful of dogs. Many of them have had bad experiences with dogs or have owned a dog who was “mean.” It’s a sad reality that there are many dogs in the community who are simply used for breeding or tied up outside without much interaction with their family. We hope that Elsa can change perceptions for many of the children she meets and help them realize the incredible bond that exists between people and animals.

Further Reading