For many years, Santa Fe Animal Shelter and New Mexico Wildlife Center have spent hundreds of hours talking to many young people in classrooms and welcoming them to tour their respective organizations. The mission of both organizations is of high interest to students and is a natural place around which to expand upon and explore four key principles which are the foundation of this new program: responsibility, compassion, safety and awareness of and connection to the environment. Using animals as the centerpiece, each organization will make these four principles come alive through presentations, discussions and interactive exercises.

Caring Kids: Wings and Paws is designed for fourth grade students and features the built-in advantage of two subject areas guaranteed to get and maintain student attention. The first area is companion animals, such as dogs and cats. The second is New Mexico wildlife, such as eagles, hawks, deer and bears. In developing this program, staff and volunteers from both organizations worked with local teachers who ensured that Common Core principles were incorporated throughout each of the one hour sessions in the four week series. The program begins and ends with joint sessions given by the Wildlife Center and the Shelter together. For the two sessions in between, each organization will present one session each, both to provide a change of pace and an opportunity to focus more deeply on different areas.

Although the subject matter will vary from companion animals to wildlife, each session will be consistent in emphasizing the four principles while incorporating Common Core teaching methods. The last session will also suggest a “call to action” for the students, and teachers can be provided follow up materials and suggestions at their request. In addition, the Wildlife Center and the Shelter will measure the program’s success by gathering and comparing data from the first and last sessions.

In summary, this first ever collaboration is designed for maximum student attention and interest while focusing on four principles that are very important to student education and to their future development: responsibility, compassion, safety and awareness of and connection to the environment. Ultimately, Wings and Paws will support the development of Caring Kids.

To sign up or for more information, email Mary Beth Yates and