At HEART, we continually strive to expand humane education. This summer we launched the HEART Certified Instructor (HCI) Program with this goal in mind. Through this initiative, selected individuals with humane education backgrounds are hired and trained to teach HEART programs in their local schools.
So far, we’ve hired three HCI instructors to pilot the program: Morgan Nati from Miami, Jennifer Whitworth from Seattle, and Megan Pincus Kajitani from San Diego. The three of them will teach humane education on a part-time basis. As Megan explained, “HEART has found a way to allow those of us with other jobs and family responsibilities to also be comprehensive humane educators, in a flexible, local way.” Each of these women has a unique background in humane education, and we are thrilled to have them as the newest members of our HEART team. They bring an incredible amount of knowledge, care, and self-motivation to our organization.
We first met Morgan at one of our collaborative humane education public service projects with the American Bar Association. She was the president of the University of Miami Law School’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter, and her compassion and dedication stood out immediately. When asked what excites her most about becoming involved with the program, Morgan told us, “Learning from the children.” She went on to say, “I know I’ll learn as much or more from them as they will from me.” Morgan is absolutely right; a true educator goes on a journey with her/his students and facilitates dialogue about the topics introduced in the lesson so that everyone can learn from one another.
Jennifer, who is a board member of the Association for Professional Humane Educators, already works as a professional humane education coordinator for a local shelter in her area, but since she is so passionate about humane education and believes in its power to change the world so deeply, she wanted to be able to teach even more. Jennifer explained, “Humane education is imperative to creating meaningful and lasting change in our communities and global society. Through humane education, we are able to bring awareness to key issues that impact us all and provide the tools to work towards a better tomorrow.”
After seeing Megan’s TEDx talk, Who Matters?, we were deeply inspired by her empathy and ability to embody what comprehensive humane education is all about. Megan said, “For me, sharing the message of comprehensive humane education is a passion and a service to the planet, to all living beings, and to the future our children will inherit.” Her children’s book, Senna Helps the Sea Lions (And You Can Too!), which you can learn more about through our humane book list, incorporates the key elements of comprehensive humane education, and we know she will bring those same guiding principles into the classroom.
These HEART Certified Instructors will be coordinating engagements in their local communities to teach young people a variety of topics including child labor, dog and cat homelessness, factory farming, environmental conservation, and youth empowerment. “At the program’s core,” as Morgan has said, “is a way to get young people thinking about the lens through which they view the world and its inhabitants.” We are happy to welcome Morgan, Jennifer, and Megan to HEART, and with their help HEART will continue to expand humane education’s reach across the country.