A Day in the Life of a Humane Educator

By Chris Parrucci
Firefighter, professional basketball player, doctor, lawyer… These are common answers children will give when asked what they want to do when they grow up. Another popular choice is veterinarian and when asked why, a child usually replies, “Because I love animals!”
Just like so many children, this is the career path my wife chose when she was five. When she reached her teen years and realized that she wasn’t comfortable around blood, those dreams of being a veterinarian vanished. My wife’s story isn’t all that uncommon. Many children grow up wanting to help animals, people, or even the planet and some grow up to become veterinarians and doctors (which is fantastic!), but few realize just how many job opportunities there are in the animal world beyond becoming a veterinarian.
One of my favorite activities we have created here at HEART addresses this very problem. Detailed in our animal focused Resource Guide, the activity asks students to choose a humane career they are interested in and research details about that profession. Students are given a list of humane careers such as animal shelter manager, humane law enforcement officer, pet photographer, animal lawyer and, of course, veterinarian. Another profession that is listed is one that I’m intimately knowledgeable of: humane educator.
To help any future students researching the occupation of humane educator and for anyone who has ever been curious about what we do on a day-to-day basis, I decided to write about a typical day working here at HEART.
Starting work at 9am I check my email to keep up to date with conversations I’m having with coworkers, teachers, parents and partnering organizations. Once the emails are answered I start on my many projects. I’ll spend a few hours creating documents for our online P-Course, a professional development class New York City Department of Education teachers can take to receive credit. All this work on the computer sounds easy but is made a lot more difficult when trying to type with a cat on your lap.
Then I’ll have a conference call with my colleagues who are working from all around the country. We collaborate on different projects like creating different humane education units. Using our various backgrounds and expertise we brainstorm ways to bring humane education alive inside the classroom and motivate students to think critically and take action against the world’s injustices.
After a quick lunch I’ll head out and travel to one of the various schools I teach at. I meet with roughly 40 third and fifth graders at an elementary school up in the Bronx. After the students learn about animal neglect and abuse (this is just one example of a topic and activity), they create PSA posters to put up around school. The posters will serve as a fun educational tool for the rest of the school community.

student animal posterI finally get home around 7:30pm from a long day of work. Though tired, I’m energized because I know that tomorrow brings new challenges and new opportunities to spread the humane education message!

3 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Humane Educator”

  1. Hello! I am going to be turning 18 soon and would really love to take action and do the steps I need to do to become a humane educator but I’m not sure what I need to do.

    1. Great question, Megan. We’d recommend finding a job, internship, or volunteer position at an organization that allows you to work with young people and incorporates the values of humane education. For example, many animal shelters, wildlife centers, or social justice organizations have youth education programs. It is how many of the educators at HEART started out and a great way to gain experience.

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