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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.

Newsletters - Winter 2008 Issue

Highlight on Humane Education
Not your typical classroom
by Robin Henderson

Based on your generation, you may remember your days of academia ranging from learning the trade of carpentry in woodshop class, or a more high tech graphic design course. This would be alongside the traditional math, science, social studies and language arts. These days, it seems number 2 pencils and answer bubbles rule the classroom. With so many testing requirements, it’s hard for teachers to plan their curriculum around real life and the art of molding a thoughtful human being. I decided to try and become part something to change this.
This past fall I enrolled in the Institute for Humane Education’s Master’s program, offered through Cambridge College. Through this program I have been discovering a different take on education, one that if applied, could change generations of graduates and affect our animal friends and the earth. In most schools we are taught various subjects separately.

One incident I witnessed reminiscent of the standard curriculum involved a teacher who asked her students to write a research paper on a social justice issue. She gave them a specific list of topics ranging from domestic violence to immigration. One of her students asked if she could do research on animal cruelty. The teacher said no, because it wasn’t a social justice issue. Clearly this teacher has never read an article about illegal immigrants working in dangerous slaughterhouses, or the well-researched link between someone who abuses animals, and escalates to abusing family or friends. These issues are all connected; people, culture, the environment, and animals. Humane Education hopes to bridge the gaps between these topics so that every student leaves school with a basic idea of how they affect their surroundings and what positive choices they can make to impact our world for the better.


The Institute for Humane Education (IHE) has been in the forefront of supporting humane education initiatives. They offer a variety of resources and learning tools, including two fabulous workshops that can be brought to communities upon request. The MOGO workshops help individuals discover ways to choose MOGO (the most good), and to act on what’s most important to a person. I have attended the Sowing Seeds workshop, where I learned how to facilitate effective, transformative humane education programs, and also how to empower others to make informed, humane choices. It was through this workshop that I confirmed my desire to pursue my Master’s in Humane Education. It has been an enjoyable journey thus far, and I look forward to having an applicable degree. For those of you who may not be ready to jump back into the world of academia, IHE also offers a Humane Education certificate program, filled with most of the same coursework and self-reflection, but without the hefty tuition bill, (or a Master’s in Education).

There are many other resources for parents, teachers, kids, and anyone interested in how they could be a humane educator. Here I will review some of the most useful websites available: 

Institute for Humane Education www.humaneeducation.org  IHE’s website has a bounty of  resources, including downloadable activities and programs to be used in or outside of the classroom. The activities are divided up into four areas, Environmental Ethics, Animal Protection, Cultural Issues and Human Rights. IHE also has lists of books, videos and other websites that offer useful information.

Humane Society of the United States: Youth http://www.nahee.org/ 
This website is neatly designed and organized for the curious teacher. It uniquely provides a catalog of classroom supplies and literature for humane educators and their students. The website also offers many links to resources and ideas. The partner web-site to this, HumaneTeen.org is an edgy version geared toward the teen who wants to make a difference for animals.

Teach Kind www.teachkind.org 
Similar to HSUS’s Humane Ed. website, Teach Kind is offered by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This website has free teaching materials for k-12, and college educators based around the issues facing animals.
Human & KIND Character Education Center, Inc.
This is a new resource to the Hudson Valley, although the web-site is not completely up and running. Individuals can seek guidance about humane education programs, books, videos, tools, workshops, and also training for teachers. Positive character education is fostered through Project KIND, which will provide on-site instruction for student youth groups. They also hope to build stronger relationships between the youth of the Hudson Valley and non-profit organizations that focus on human rights, animal welfare, and environmental ethics. This group works closely with the Jane Goodall Institute’s youth based program called Roots & Shoots. (Please contact Robin for more information concerning this organization.)
There are other great websites offering Humane Education curriculum including the United Nations, www.Tolerance.org , and the National Association for Multicultural Education, www.EarthEducation.org .

Sanctuary Visits
Another great way to foster a child’s compassion and slowly introduce the journey to an empathetic mindset is through animal sanctuary visits. Building respect and love for animals at a young age is the most effective approach, best not to show a seven year old “Meet Your Meat.” We are fortunate to have wonderful farm animal sanctuaries in New York. Please check out their website for the dates of open season, and then be sure to plan a visit with your son, daughter, niece, nephew or grandkids!

Farm Sanctuary, www.farmsanctuary.org  http://www.farmsanctuarykidzclub.com 
The mother of all farm animal sanctuaries, Farm Sanctuary offers a comprehensive humane education guide for educators at any of three levels: elementary, middle or high school. They also has a wonderfully designed “kidz club” website, featuring the artwork of funny man Dan Piraro, (worth a look even for us adults!) The website includes games, animal stories, and information about the issues facing animals, at kid-friendly intensity.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary www.casanctuary.org 
Director Kathy Stevens started out as a teacher, so she’s familiar with the phrase, “The children are our future.” As stated on the website, “CAS welcomes school groups, teachers, seniors, youth organizations, religious organizations and others interested in learning about farm animals…Each visit is customized to the ages, size, and background of your group.”

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, www.woodstocksanctuary.org 
This kid friendly sanctuary can’t help but bring out the bleeding heart in every child, (“mommy, we eat them?”) Be sure to let your tour guide know whether you want the youngster friendly version, filled with fun facts about chickens, pigs and cows, or what some parents request, the dirty truth.

Whatever you choose, to join the ranks and become a humane educator yourself or to pass on this information to a friend of a friend who’s a teacher, the Institute for Humane Education offers four important points to successful humane education. Humane education includes four elements:
• Providing accurate information about the issues of our time so that people have the information they need to understand the consequences of their decisions as citizens.

• Fostering curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking, so that people can evaluate information and solve problems.

• Instilling reverence, respect, and responsibility, so that people have the motivation to face challenges and to act with integrity

• Offering positive choices that benefit oneself, other people, the animals, and the Earth, so that people are empowered to create a more humane world.

For more information on humane education in general, or the organization Human & KIND, please contact Robin Henderson, RockinRobin0705@gmail.com.

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