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Placer SPCA shares humane education with Roseville students

Kids learn kindness, respect for all living creatures
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Through the Placer SPCA's youth education programs, kids learn kindness and respect for all living creatures.

California Education Code requires that schools include the "promotion of harmonious relations, kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures" in curriculum.

The Roseville-based animal shelter designed programs to meet this requirement, which they present in local elementary schools throughout Placer County, said Humane Educator Mary Terrell.

"In addition, we know that children have a natural love of animals and we use that feeling to teach compassion, empathy and kindness toward animals as well as people," Terrell said.

Her organization's free programs include: dog safety, basic pet care, how to be caring and responsible to people and animals and what is a habitat.

For older kids, they discuss using positive reinforcement in training, why animals end up in shelters, and recognizing abuse and what to do about it.

Terrell recently presented on habitat to a third grade class at Sargeant Elementary School in Roseville. She first asked the kids to define "habitat."

"A habitat is a place where things can grow or live," said student Lanie Blomquist.

Terrell said a habitat is the best place for a living being - animal or plant - to exist, where the creature will thrive and have access to food, water and companions.

She wrote a list of habitats on the board: lake, desert, ocean, meadow, home, arctic and forest. The students identified where various animals are best suited to live. Sometimes, though, kids see animals outside of their ideal homes.

Terrell asked why animals leave their perfect environments.

"Because we're taking away their habitat," Evan Dennett said. "The cities are doing it by building houses."

Lanie added that there might not be enough food in their native habitat so they must move.

"What can we do?" Terrell asked the kids. "I see the potential for us to make a difference in the lives of these animals."

The class discussed how when trees are cut down in the forest, new trees must be planted. They said people should keep trash out of the ocean - especially plastic bags that will still be there 100 years from now. The point Terrell hoped to impart on the kids: We're each responsible for the world around us.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.