Animal Advocates is a program for animal-loving kids and teens that began in September 2021. Members meet once a month with the mission to help local shelters and educate the community about animal rights, animal welfare and environmental topics that impact us all. We occasionally go to animal shelters to volunteer for field trips.
I wanted to keep the program group-led so we could explore the interests of the kids who joined. This limited my ability to do too much planning; however, I did reach out to area shelters to find out what they needed and who was willing to work with us. I also jotted down ideas for fundraising and education for the kids to consider/brainstorm at the monthly meetings.
For the most part, the program has been free to the library. We've used some of the craft supplies hanging around for signs and posters.
I keep a table cleared for the group to meet, but beyond that, there isn't too much prep involved except for thinking of topics to discuss.
In September, the kids ran a yard sale and adoption event in the village and raised $212 for Salem's Community Cats and The Lucky Puppy. In October, they teamed up with The Advocates of the Schuylerville Public Library for a Walk fundraiser and raised another $100 for Saratoga County Animal Shelter and also volunteered at Lucky Puppy. And just recently the kids ran a supply drive for H.O.P.E shelter and Saratoga County Animal shelter. The local Girl Scout troop collected a LARGE donation for the drive.
We will continue the program in the coming year. We plan on making two outreach kits for the library in the new year: one that teaches about shelters and the importance of spaying and neutering, and another about endangered species and how we can help. I wanted this program to empower kids' understanding that they can make a difference.
We've had wonderful feedback. It has been challenging with the pandemic to keep a steady count of heads, but we have about four kids who devoutly come every month. It was really nice to see the Girl Scout troop come out to help support our efforts!
The program has gained enough interest that we will continue it in the coming year. I am hoping after we set up an animal welfare display we can get some new titles and get circulation going for the topic. I evaluated the outcome of this program solely on the enjoyment of the kids participating. It is really wonderful to see them passionate about such a kind cause.
Do some research so you are knowledgeable enough to help guide members of the group and connect with local shelters.
There is a wonderful program called Muttigrees  that has lesson plans already made if you'd like a more educational program. They would be great to team up with if you'd like more guidance. For our kids, I prefer to keep it open-ended so we can explore topics they care about.
I have kids ranging from 2nd to 6th grade, so the age range will really dictate what sort of program you want to produce. Younger kids may do better with the Muttigrees program, while if you have enough older kids interested, keeping the program participant-led may be best.
About This Library
Schuylerville Public Library is a small library in the heart of the village of Schuylerville, New York.