2018_1002_Robin_Syrah01.jpgVisiting classrooms is one of my favorite things to do as Humane Educator.  I meet many wonderful teachers and students along the way.  At St. Patrick’s Day School in Thousand Oaks, second grade teacher, Adrianne Rippinger, has created a unit where the Humane Society is the theme for her students throughout this school year.  In creating such a theme, students are learning about nonprofit organizations, careers with animals, pet care and responsibility, and service learning by collecting supplies for the Shelter.  Students are “adopting” a pet, writing about it and researching when it gets adopted.  The culmination of this unit will be a field trip to the Shelter at the end of the school year.


"Students learn about nonprofit organizations, careers with animals,

pet care and responsibility, and service learning by

collecting supplies for the Shelter."


Syrah, the Humane Society dog, and I love visiting the classes. She wows the students with her intelligence, plus she loves showing off all her tricks.  She comes with me when presenting, “Pet Care and Responsibility.”  These presentations are still the top choice for teachers. Students love learning how our pets have similar needs to our own.

Living with Wildlife, a new presentation this year, is increasing in popularity.  When living in an urban community, it is important for student to learn that we live amongst wildlife that we depend on for a stable ecosystem.  Students learn and understand the importance of the wildlife in our community and what we need to do to coexist with them.  They also learn how they can become “citizen scientist” and what to do if they see a sick or injured wild animal.

Upper grades are enjoying presentations on animal behavior, comparing our 5 senses with dogs and cats, and careers with animals.  As an experienced classroom teacher, my goal is to meet the needs of your students. All presentations include a Power Point presentation that I believe the students will enjoy.  I also have handouts to reinforce concepts and facts that the students learn.

I would love to visit your classroom too!  Please email me at and I will send you more information. 

-Robin Satnick



2018_1002_Robin_Syrah04.jpgSchool Programs

We have designed our school programs to fulfill our mission of caring for animals with reaching the academic goals of our schools. Separate presentations may include pet care and responsibility, the difference between domesticated and wild animals, kindness, safety, overpopulation, neglect, abuse and cruelty or the role of shelters in our society. In addition, middle and high school programs may include animal rights, evolution of the dog through natural and artificial selection, careers with animals, or forming a Humane Society Club.

All programs are free of charge and are tailored to varying ages, learning levels and class sizes. They are about 45 minutes long and include follow-up lesson plans, visual aids and interaction with live animals. Here are some of the ways Humane Education themes tie into the California State Content Standards :

Language Arts

  • shelter and adoption stories
  • story sequencing
  • creative and persuasive writing
  • vocabulary words


  • games and formulas demonstrating the multiplication/reproduction of non-sterilized cats and dogs
  • telling time through scheduling the daily responsibilities of pet care
  • graphs and statistics detailing the habits of pet owners
  • economics and the cost of owning a pet


  • classification
  • needs of living things
  • habitats and adaptation
  • hereditary traits

Social Studies

  • the development and relationship between the Humane Society (private, non-profit) and Ventura County Animal Regulation (government)
  • legislation and enforcement of animal-related laws
  • the character traits of our founders and those that continue to be advocates for animals

Tips offered for evaluating humane qualities of books

Reading about animals is a great way for children to learn about them. There are many children’s books about animals. Some of them foster humane values and some do not. Use the checklist below to distinguish between the two and help you choose the right book to incorporate into your Humane Education Program or family reading times.

Book Checklist

  • Is there cruelty towards animals in the text or visuals?
  • Is the animal information correct?
  • Does the book discuss the needs of animals?
  • Is there respect for nature and its qualities?
  • Does the book teach compassion towards animals and humans?
  • Is the book about animals at all?
  • Does the book show animals in an anthropomorphic way?
  • Is there acceptance of cultural differences?
  • Does the book speak about environmental conservation?
  • Do the visuals demonstrate appropriate behaviors around animals?
  • Does the book mention issues concerning the treatment of animals in a way that discussion can occur?

Sources for information on good animal-related children’s stories

  • ASPCA has a Bibliography of recommended children’s books, Kids, Animals and Literature. For ordering information write: ASPCA Humane Education, 424 East 92nd St., New York, NY 10128-6804, or call (212) 876-7700.
  • Each November edition, the Smithsonian magazine prints a view of children’s books. Many of these books have animals as the subject.
  • Check your local newspapers. Many now have weekly columns which review children’s books.
  • Animal Sheltering Magazine, Animal People and Kind Teacher often contain reviews of children’s books.
  • Visit your local bookstore and spend time browsing through the children’s book section.
  • Visit your local library and talk to the children’s librarian ask for recommendations.

Recommended Reading

“Old Turtle” by Donovan Wood
“Alejandro’s Gift” by Richard E. Albert

Education is a major tool the Humane Society of Ventura County uses to work towards the goal of eliminating the pet overpopulation problem and preventing animal abuse.

Here are a few kid-friendly websites:



Shelter & Adoption Location:
402 Bryant Street in Ojai