PAWS Magazine


Issue 48, Winter 2001


Holly teaches kids respect for animals

by Samantha Sherman

Readers of the summer issue of PAWS magazine found a colorful surprise tucked into the pages: the first edition of Paw Prints, Animal News For Kids. The first of its kind in Washington State, Paw Prints is an animal-oriented newspaper that speaks directly to kids.

Paw Prints is a product of the hard work of PAWS Humane Education and Outreach Coordinator, Holly Anderson, who writes all the articles. Created as a way to tie together the educational work she does in local classrooms, Paw Prints is available to any Washington school that requests it.

Holly Anderson

Holly Anderson came to PAWS two years ago from her home in rural Kentucky, starting as an intern in the Lynnwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. She graduated college with a double major in Biology and Education, which made working with rescued wildlife an excellent application of her science background. When the position of Outreach and Education Coordinator was created, Holly immediately applied and was hired last February. Now Holly is in charge of all the outreach booths at the various events PAWS attends. She also conceives and leads two free workshops a month for adults. But the most important part of her job involves helping kids respect and value animals. In addition to Paw Prints, Holly reaches kids by traveling to 22 classrooms each month to teach children (mostly fourth graders) in one-hour workshops that focus on animals. Over the course of a year Anderson will see each classroom 10 times.

Much of what goes into Paw Prints comes directly from these workshops. “It’s nice to have a hard copy to leave behind,” says Anderson. Each issue of Paw Prints correlates with the lessons that the kids learn in the classroom workshops. However, as it is crafted so that it can stand alone, any child (or adult!) can pick up the newsletter and have a fun read and learn about animals. “[Kids] are already very interested in animals,” says Anderson. “Paw Prints helps them develop that interest in a positive way.”

PAWS distributes Paw Prints to every fourth grade student in the Seattle, Shoreline, Edmonds, Mukilteo, and McCleary school districts, among others. It’s a big undertaking, because each district has their own set of rules for distribution of materials to students. It took Anderson weeks to secure the proper permissions for the first issue, eventually distributing about 25,000 copies.

“Holly’s hard work paid off,” says her supervisor, Director of Advocacy and Outreach Richard Huffman. “The feedback from parents, PAWS members, and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive. People seem to find it really valuable. And of course, the kids really love it.”

Huffman and Anderson are conscious of the necessary sensitivity when working with children. With that in mind, Anderson formed the PAWS Humane Education Advisory Committee to advise her. Comprised of retired school teachers, present school employees and PAWS staff, the committee works with Anderson to oversee, advise and provide feedback on her workshops in the schools as well as the content in Paw Prints. “We wanted to make sure that PAWS was being as appropriate and sensitive as possible with all of the material that we present to school children,” says Huffman.

“The teachers are giving me a lot of input as well,” Anderson says of the classroom teachers she works with. Between the committee and input from the teachers, Anderson can be sure that the writing and content is readable and suitable for the fourth grade age group she works with.

Anderson is trying to make Paw Prints as consistent as possible, with similar features in each issue. One such feature exposed kids to animal-related careers. “Usually the only animal career that kids hear about is a veterinarian,” says Anderson. “I wanted to make sure kids learned about a whole variety of animal-related careers.” Last issue featured a profile of Snohomish County Animal Control officer (and PAWS shelter favorite) Wally Barber. The current issue features a profile of a children’s book writer who writes about wild animals.

Each issue will also have a “What To Do If” section that gives kids tips on how to handle found animals. Anderson is very keen that children understand the safety issues surrounding stray and wild animals. Additionally, Paw Prints highlights Washington State kids that help the animals in extraordinary ways. An activity section is also a regular feature with items such as crossword puzzles, word searches and a vocabulary section that defines the words found in bold colored lettering throughout the articles in that issue.

Anderson tries hard to make Paw Prints relevant to Washington state kids. “We want the kids to relate to it because it’s local.”

Anderson’s biggest challenge with Paw Prints so far has been distribution. “Every school district is different,” says Anderson. “With some, you can distribute unbundled copies to the district headquarters. With others, we have to deliver presorted copies directly to each school. It can be pretty daunting.”

To help out, Anderson is looking for volunteers available to count, sort, and deliver coming issues of Paw Prints. If you are interested in helping Anderson, please call her directly at (425) 787-2500 ext. 812.

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