Caroline Bucholz, who earned her IHE graduate certificate in 2014, spent her first 14 years in Canada and has now settled in Walled Lake, Michigan, where she works as a toddler 1 lead teacher at a preschool, integrating humane education into her work. She also volunteers for animal protection organizations.
We asked Caroline to share a bit about her work for a better world.
IHE: What led you to the path of humane education?
CB: My parents inspired me at a young age to be kind to the environment, animals, and other people.
IHE: Share how you’re currently manifesting humane education.
CB: The best way I have found to bring humane education to the preschool set is through everyday moments. For example, if a child were dragging a stuffed dog puppet across the floor, I might offer to hold the doggy for them. Then we pretend the doggy is real/alive, and I work with the child on when and when not to approach a dog, how to ask to approach a dog, and how to approach a dog once given permission. I have also introduced a stuffed dog to the kids during circle time. They and I treat it as a real dog, extending a hand to let the dog smell it and then giving the dog pets. Then the dog goes off and listens to us sing and have storytime.
IHE: Share a success story.
CB: Besides helping pass the anti-tethering resolution in Oakland County, Michigan, I recently did a presentation about orcas in SeaWorld for a bunch of middle school kids for their animal lovers club. When I came back to do another presentation, the teacher said that I had inspired her to watch the documentary Blackfish, and that the kids were going to watch it at their meeting. I felt inspired that I had inspired her.
IHE: What are some strategies you use to bring Humane Education to Preschoolers?
CB: The main strategy is working a lot with kids on developing an affinity for animals. I make it as visual and tactile as possible, using pictures, video, accurately-represented stuffed animals, puppets, and so on.
IHE: How do you balance education and empowering young children without traumatizing them?
CB: It is about going slow and creating an affinity first. Then, as age-appropriate, we can slowly show them what happens to the animals (like species extinction), and focus on solutions.
IHE: What would you like to say to others interested in the IHE graduate program?
CB: I say do it. It will open your eyes to so many things. It will make you angry, happy, and scared, and it will definitely make you cry. But it will make you a better person so that you can make the world a better place for everyone.