Do you have a kid who loves animals? A girl who dreams of horses or a boy who wants to be a zookeeper? Animal Science is cute and fun in early grades, but high school is the time to focus and build careers. But what do you do if you don’t have access to animals, yet really want to help your child realize his or her dreams?
I have a child who lives and breathes animals. It hasn’t been easy to provide animals at every duty station. Being a military family, we move a lot. And our last duty station landed us in Hawaii. I know, I know. Nothing to complain about, but when you have a country kid stuck in the urban city with no animals, it isn’t pretty.
A Place for our Furry Friends
We have lived in the country, in the city, on military posts, and even in a 5th wheel trailer. And even though we had land on occasion, didn’t mean we had the financial means to care for animals. I had to get creative so that my girl could love on animals and build knowledge that will one day turn into her career. As moms, we want to help our children reach high and do something that they love.
We have almost always had a dog, sometimes an outside cat. And although we couldn’t afford horses, we found friends that didn’t mind sharing. In the camper we had a hamster, in Hawaii we raised a feral chicken and fostered a dog, and in the country we managed a small dairy goat herd with other farm animals.
Volunteering is a great way to expose your child to animal careers. The Humane Society, hippotherapy ranches, nature conservatories, bird aviaries, and many other organizations love volunteers! Your student can work in trade for animal time and knowledge. It’s great hands on training and looks great on a resume.
I’ve had a child that volunteered at a hippotherapy ranch in Hawaii. Even though we couldn’t have horses on an island, God opened doors. My other daughter was able to donate supplies to the humane society and love on the dogs there, which led to fostering our now beloved companion, Hank.
Zoo’s, wildlife rescues, and conservatories often have volunteer opportunities. Search what’s in your area and just ask. We have also volunteered at farms in trade for food. Don’t forget to ask the smaller scale places. Think outside the box and follow your student’s interests.
Finding opportunities to simply expose your child to different kinds of animals and interesting animal careers is invaluable! Have your student interview someone who does a job they want. For example, my horse loving daughter interviewed a farrier, a job she looks forward to having. Ask to take a tour or a behind the scenes look at a possible career choice.
Don’t discount the value of the zoo. Now that your student is in high school, you can visit the zoo with a totally different perspective! Study a particular animal and then observe it at the zoo. Last month, my daughter was the only visitor to a “meet the keeper” at the zoo and was able to ask lots of questions and really interact with the zookeeper!
We also had the amazing pleasure of swimming with dolphins and sea turtles, touching sea urchins, jellyfish (not so much fun) and sea stars while in Hawaii. During a three day hike on the Big Island, my kids came across wild horses! A mare and her foal came up for food. We definitely took advantage of the animals around us.
National and State Parks are a wonderful resource. They offer many classes and hikes to observe wildlife and ask park rangers questions. Again, think outside the box!
Animals at Home
Obviously give your child the chance to care for their own animals if you have the space. My daughter has to pay for her own animals, but she currently has a horse, a dog, and some chickens. She’s working on dairy goats next.
Animal science will look different to each family, but part of that will be hands on. Don’t give up if you live in an apartment or your HOA doesn’t allow animals! Make friends with some animal lovers and share responsibility. Volunteering, joining a 4-H club or animal society, and meeting people with similar interests will provide opportunities to get your hands on some animals.
Hands on science is awesome and should be allowed as much as possible, but there is much to learn from books as well. There are courses on vet science, animal unit studies, equine science and obviously biology. In my Animal Science Pack you will find lists with links to my favorite products.
I also want to add that 4-H has amazing opportunities for your kids to be exposed to animals and they offer curriculum! It’s been a blessing for our family to be involved with 4-H.
And for more help putting together an Animal Science course for high school credit, don’t miss the upcoming STEM Homeschool Conference where I teach a session on doing just that!! I also have sessions on Biology and Chemistry, plus there are so many more awesome workshops!
What are you doing?
I would love to hear about your adventures in animal science! Please share with me how you are providing for your students animal interests. Comment below or let me know on social media!