Cities Community Rancho Santa Fe

Helen Woodward Animal Center debuts Free Teacher Day

RANCHO SANTA FE — Helen Woodward Animal Center’s education team is doing something special for its local teachers. On July 29, teachers are invited to take part in a free showcase so that they may interact with the amazing animals, learn about the educational programs at Critter Camp and see how they can incorporate what they experienced during the showcase in the classroom.

Critter Camp at Helen Woodward is best described as one if its humane education programs. According to Jessica Gercke, the center’s public relations and communications director, Helen Woodward started this curriculum because she felt that focusing on children was the real way to change the world of animal welfare.

“We could do a lot of things to try and get people to adopt animals, but the real thing we needed to do is to start teaching children about loving animals, respecting animals, and understanding that we’re sharing the world with them,” Gercke said. “We have a responsibility to animals. What the children learn they could pass on to their kids — slowly but surely, the world of animal welfare would change.”

Nearly 14,000 kids go through this program every year at Helen Woodward Animal Center as well as Critter Camp, which is branched into summer, spring and winter.

“The kids meet about 94 different educational animals,” Gercke said. “They see everything from alpacas, to blue tongue skinks, to giant Flemish rabbits, to dogs, to cats and donkeys. It’s been a really special thing for kids.” Now, for the first time, Critter Camp is offering this particular event exclusively to teachers to come and experience Critter Camp and become familiar with the programs.

“We’re opening Critter Camp to teachers so they can come and see what we do here so that they can institute that into their schools, which I think is really special,” she said. “This day is entirely free to teachers that are considering bringing animal welfare education into their classroom.”

Lesson plans will also be on hand. In addition to July, Free Teacher Day has also been slated again in September.

For more information about the Helen Woodward Animal Center Free Teacher Day on Saturday, July 29 from 9 to 11 a.m., RSVP by calling (858) 756-4117, ext. 316 or emailing Kelly Rumsey at