Understanding animals shows them respect. Doing so illuminates the interdependence between and among species, including humans. This understanding doesn’t come from books or nature films alone. It doesn’t come from a brisk walk through a zoo. The understanding needed grows through the guided exposure to animals’ stories, strengths, threats and survival skills.
Humane education is based on service learning and experiential learning. This means giving people an opportunity to take care of animals, groom them, feed them, help clean up after them and care for their habitats. This educational approach does not rely on videos, lectures or textbooks. It’s personal, get-your-hands-dirty learning which triggers cognitive, emotional and behavioral responses.
What the world needs now is a demonstration site to put this education to the test and integrate it with crafts and creative projects that remind us that animals share our home. By combining human education and crafts, we will move closer to an appreciation of the cultures that shape us, whether human or animal.
The combination of animal education, shelter, and programs to sterilize animals will help control the number of sick, injured, and exploited strays. This requires a humane education.
In the Rifugio Isola Del Sole Education Center, we will present interactive sessions about animal welfare; we’ll guide children and their families in experiences that help them get to know animals, teach the importance of spaying and neutering and what “factory farming” means. We’ll underscore our connection to our environment with classes like Sicilian crafts and cooking, weaving on the loom, sewing, embroidery, pottery, carving, jewelry-making, how to create your own soaps and perfumes, pasta, butter, and cheese.
The Rifugio has solid and growing support in the region: the mayor of Noto, Corrado Bonfanti, and the mayor of Syracuse, Francesco Italia, have each joined the project as sponsors. These affiliations underscore the impact we can have locally and across Sicily. In addition, our advisory council now includes Faith Maloney, Founder of Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, as well as Allison Scola, founder of Experience Sicily.
Learn more about The Rifugio at their website, www.RifugioIsolaDelSole.com.