All the Best Ways to Foster Your Child’s Love of Animals

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Having a kid who loves animals doesn’t mean that you are destined to clean up dog hair all over your house for years to come. There are plenty of ways to get hands-on experience with animals from volunteer opportunities to programs like 4-H that teach animal husbandry along with leadership skills. Find our favorites below!

photo: NHM

Build a butterfly garden.

Butterflies are more than just beautiful insects with wings: they play a vital role in the production of flowering plants which means without butterflies many, many plants would not flower, fruit and seed. Give these jewel-toned pollinators a place to call home no matter how much space you have. We have all the info you need to build your own butterfly garden here

photo: iStock

Volunteer your time as a citizen scientist.

Did you know that you can donate your time to help scientists study all of the living creatures in your area? Kids make great citizen scientists as they can use their observational skills and learn about plants and animals that live near us. SciStarter has a great search tool where you can look for projects that need volunteers in your area. Search for stinkbugs in your back yard, head to a nearby water source and listen for frog mating calls and collect samples from your backyard to send to scientists. What a great way to learn and give back! 

photo: Kate Loweth

Join your local 4-H organization.

Not just for farm communities, 4-H organizations are a great way to get hands-on experience for kids who love animals. Whether you want to learn about chickens, bees, goats, pigs or other animals, 4-H has a program for you. Kids learn about animal husbandry by learning what makes specific breeds special. Best of all, you often don't even have to keep your 4-H animals at your own home as they can stay at the 4-H farm. The program is also great at developing kids as leaders as it is fully youth-led. Find a 4-H club near you

photo: iStock

Volunteer at your local animal shelter.

Do you have an animal shelter near you? Often times kids can volunteer as play partners to shelter animals when a parent comes along with them. Looking for another way to help out? Shelters often need blankets for incoming pets as well as food and other supplies. Consider running a supply drive in your neighborhood or school to contribute that way! 

photo: iStock

Offer to walk your neighbors' dogs.

If you want to get your "dog fix" without the commitment of owning your own mutt, see if any neighbors are looking for a dog walker. Often older individuals would love this opportunity to give their animal some exercise and you can have fun teaching Fido some new tricks while you're at it! 

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Stay the night at a farmstay.

If you've always wanted to wake up with the chickens, book a weekend at a nearby farmstay. These cozy cabins come with loads of opportunities to interact with animals and farm-fresh eggs for your breakfast. 

—Kate Loweth

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