The Pet Care Trust announced that they have targeted reaching 1 million children in 30,000 classrooms across North America through their popular Pets in the Classroom grants program. The program, established by the Pet Care Trust in 2009, provides grants of $100-$150 to purchase or adopt a new pet and required equipment or $50 to support existing classroom pets.
Steve King, Executive Director of the Pet Care Trust, says the program has had a powerful impact in elementary school classrooms throughout North America. In just one year the program has awarded grants to nearly 3,000 classrooms, giving up to 90,000 kids the opportunity to interact with a pet every day. “The feedback we are receiving from teachers is overwhelmingly positive,” King says. “At a time when school budgets are being slashed nationwide, Pets in the Classroom allows teachers to provide valuable enrichment activities through a classroom pet of their choosing.”
Sixth grade teacher Susan Dougherty-Fitzpatrick expressed her appreciation for the program, explaining, “This year, our entire fifth grade of over 150 students was allowed to learn about tree frogs and hermit crabs in our unit, ‘Systems and Survival’. Without your help and support, we would not have been able to undertake such a project and cannot thank you enough.”
The Pets in the Classroom program benefits students by teaching them responsible, long-term pet care at an early age and providing the psychological and developmental benefits associated with the human-animal bond. Studies have shown that caring for pets has a positive effect on children, improving school attendance and teaching children responsibility, as well as encouraging nurturing and building self esteem. Pets in the Classroom grant recipients confirm that having a classroom pet has a big impact on their students. “My students are learning how to be responsible care takers and the best of all, my very shy student and English language learners are talking now!” says Mrs. Johnson, a first grade teacher from Kentucky.
In the first year, approximately one-third of the funding has gone to freshwater aquariums. Another one-third has funded small animals, such as guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters. Reptiles, amphibians and birds comprise the final one-third, with snakes, lizards, turtles and frogs most popular.
For more information, please visit www.petsintheclassroom.org and view a video documenting the impact of the Pets in the Classroom program at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGtQdRUyWrI.