As we wrap up this school year and begin preparing for another, let’s take a quick look at what Bridges of Respect, CAA’s humane education program, has accomplished in 2016. It’s notable that all of this progress was made by dedicated volunteers.
More than 1,700 students were introduced to a variety of animal protection issues that they may not have been aware of otherwise. This is a remarkable fifty percent increase over last year! Most of our presentations revolved around the foods we eat and the way animals are affected, but we also presented on these topics:
- How animals are used in the entertainment business
- How animals are used in the science industry
- The correlation between violence toward animals and violence toward other human beings
- The great apes and the threats they face
- Environmental issues
One teacher at Century College thanked us, shook the hand of the presenter, and simply stated, “You say it better than I can.”
Our curriculum has been redesigned to allow for more student participation and to be more academically rigorous. We’ve developed a variety of video splices, assignments, and handouts defining key terms to further engage students in the subject matter. Some teachers are now showing their students full-length documentaries like Cowspiracy before we come to give our presentation.
To increase the benefits we offer to the classroom, we’ve partnered with others to develop initiatives to engage students in community projects, share resources, and support each other’s work. Some of the organizations that we’ve partnered with this past year include Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, Vegan Outreach, Mercy for Animals, Education Minnesota, and St. Cloud University.
Vegan Food in the Classroom
We usually provide vegan food samples such as Tofurky sandwiches and almond milk, but we stepped out of our comfort zone this year and took a chance on sharing some different vegan foods with classrooms that have full kitchens. For an early morning class, we made pancakes and described how to make them vegan using bananas instead of eggs. For a class just last month, we prepared a mini vegan Thanksgiving meal just before the holiday. CAA volunteer Nathan Huerkamp donned his chef uniform and whipped up some Field Roast Celebration Roast with a dollop of mashed potatoes and gravy for more than a hundred students that day. Leftovers were quickly claimed by the LGBTQ after school club.
Teaching students about farmed animals can be a tricky topic. Students at high school age are developing both intellectually and emotionally, and though we want to leave them with a sense of urgency to get involved, we also don’t want them to be overwhelmed with disturbing information about how farmed animals are treated. Students are developing their own sense of identity and understanding of how the world works. We want to provide accurate information that will allow them to make their own choices about the foods they eat and to foster compassion for all animals. We don’t tell students what to choose; we teach them that their choices matter and then give them the tools to take the next steps.
Bridges of Respect is one of CAA’s key programs, and we would love your support to keep it going. Please make a contribution today and help us reach our year-end goal of $10,000 by December 31. All of these funds are matched 2-for-1, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. We would very much appreciate your support for CAA’s humane education efforts in the Twin Cities.