Animal Welfare Education in California 4-H
Posted: Monday, June 20th, 2016
by Cheryl L. Meehan, Kelley M. Brian, Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, Emily Schoenfelder, Martin Smith, Steven M. Worker, and Andrea Ambrose
The 4-H Youth Development Program is a national non-formal education organization for youth ages 5-19. Through its national Science Mission Mandate, the 4-H program has the potential to help advance youth scientific literacy through programming in a wide variety of subject areas, including: plants and animals; environmental and earth sciences; biological sciences; physical sciences; and science and technology (4-H National Headquarters, 2007). 4-H also offers the opportunity for youth to explore topics outside of those covered by school-based science education. For example, each year approximately 30,000 youth enrolled in California 4-H participate in Animal Science projects that involve agricultural, service, and companion animals (California Enrolment Data, 2015). These projects engage youth in the rearing, caring, showing, and in some cases, breeding or marketing of these project animals. Animal Welfare is a topic that is relevant to all Animal Science projects; however, Animal Welfare has not yet been systematically addressed by 4-H in California through educational programming.
The study of Animal Welfare is a rapidly growing field that engages scientists and veterinarians in research that seeks to provide better understanding of the needs and experiences of animals, and strives to find balance between these and the practices of modern animal use. Furthermore, Animal Welfare is a social and cultural issue that is increasingly being incorporated into the legal and political landscapes. There are few published studies evaluating the impacts of Animal Welfare focused educational programs on youth, but there is developing evidence that humane education programs can have positive impacts on children’s attitudes and behavior toward animals (Tardiff-Williams and Bosacki, 2015), as well as support the development of empathy toward other humans (Ascione and Webber, 1996). Thus, the development and implementation of educational programming for 4-H youth that focuses on Animal Welfare is relevant and timely.
To address this need, a multi-disciplinary team at UC Davis has developed a hands-on, inquiry-based curriculum organized as a set of Animal Welfare Proficiencies that integrate the key scientific and cultural components of Animal Welfare. The curriculum is built around the experiential learning cycle that promotes 4-H Animal Science youth participants to explore these scientific and cultural components in real-world contexts. An introductory module supports exploration of topics central to Animal Welfare and provides experiences with ethical decision making activities. The balance of the curriculum is organized into the five modules described below:
- Level 1: Animal Behavior
Youth develop skills in behavioral observation, with the focus on animal behavior as a tool for measuring and interpreting Animal Welfare. Youth also gain an understanding of, and appreciation for, behavioral and cognitive capacities of animals.
- Level 2: Animal Health
Youth engage in activities that introduce “Tip-to-Tail” health checks and health information documentation. Youth also practice observational skills and perform health-related data collection with their own animals.
- Level 3: Housing and Husbandry
Youth identify basic needs that must be met through animal housing and care, as well as design enrichment plans that support enhanced welfare.
- Level 4: Human Animal Interactions as an Important Component of Good Welfare
Youth explore human-animal interactions and the connections between these relations and the animal’s welfare.
- Level 5: Knowledge and Skills Application
In Proficiency 5, youth move to the culminating activities of the project. They use a self-assessment tool to identify welfare risks present in their current practices and then implement strategies to improve the welfare of their animals.
The curriculum series was tested with 35 youth through a partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program in California. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes were assessed using a retrospective survey tool and the resulting data were analyzed for significant changes over time. As a result of participating in the curriculum activities, youth reported that they had improved their abilities to collect both behavioral and health information and were significantly more likely to incorporate these practices into their daily animal care routines. Youth also reported that they were significantly more likely to consider their animals’ behavioral and physical needs when making decisions about housing and care then they were prior to participating in the program. Adult volunteers who implemented the program with youth also reported improving their knowledge about Animal Welfare concepts and indicated that they would be likely to incorporate the Animal Welfare Proficiencies into future 4-H Animal Science projects.
Providing in-depth and sustained educational experiences is an important strategy for enhancing subject-specific skills and scientific literacy (Smith & Meehan, 2014). The Animal Welfare Proficiency series is currently undergoing peer review with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Once published*, this curriculum will provide a readily accessible resource with which educators in formal and non-formal settings can explore socially- and scientifically-relevant topics of Animal Welfare with school-age youth.
- 4-H National Headquarters. (2007). 4-H science, engineering and technology: A strategic framework for progress. Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture.
- Ascione, F.R & Webber, M.S (1996). Children’s attitudes about the humane treatment of animals and empathy: One-year follow up of a school-based intervention. Anthrorzoos, 9(4), 188-195.
- California State 4-H Office. (Unpublished; generated 2015, August). California 4-H Enrollment Data for the 2014-2015 Program Year. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Smith, M. H., & Meehan, C. L. (2014). Bio-security proficiencies project for beginning producers in California 4-H. Journal of Extension, 52 (6).
- Tardif-Willians, C.Y. & Bosacki, S.L. (2015). Evaluating the impact of a humane education summer camp program on school-aged children’s relationships with companion animals. Anthrozoos, 28(4), 587-600.
Emily Schoenfelder is the 4-H Youth Development Adviser, and Martin Smith is a Specialist in Cooperative Extension. Steven Worker is a 4-H Youth Development Adviser, and Andrea Ambrose, Director of Development Services. Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty is a 4-H Youth Development Adviser & County Director, and Kelley Brian is the Youth, Families and Communities Adviser. All are a part of the University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development Program. In addition, Steven, Martin, and Lynn are members of CSTA.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…