Engaging With Local Schools

Note: This is chapter 7 of Best Friends Animal Society's Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit.

Engaging young people in animal-related issues is how we ensure a compassionate, humane world for future generations. When you involve kids in your advocacy work, it’s also an opportunity to reach a bigger audience through the action your students take. From collecting donations and running lemonade stands that help animals at their local shelter to talking to their classmates and neighbors about homeless dogs and cats, kids can be an advocacy powerhouse.

Of course, always be sure to go through the proper channels when reaching out to schools or organizations that involve children. Contact the school’s administrative office first or someone you know who works at the school who can serve as a point person for advocacy efforts there.

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When you sponsor an animal like Snickers, or any of the animals here at Best Friends, you’re providing them with the love, care, and healing they need for a bright future.

Similar to the research you’ve already conducted related to your community’s lifesaving needs and your local allies, be sure first to familiarize yourself with any school or group you’re planning to contact and discuss how and what you’re going to present to the students. Remember always to be respectful of whomever you engage with throughout your campaign efforts.

Here are some initial ideas for involving schools and local youth groups in your campaign:

  • Identify clubs and student council groups within the school that could help organize other students.
  • Offer students a variety of fun, feel-good ways to get involved, such as creating adoption posters for pets at the shelter, making toys for cats and dogs from recycled material, and writing stories about their own pets, which can be used as part of a media campaign.
  • Contact local shelters and other animal welfare groups about opportunities (and any related age restrictions) for young people to volunteer on behalf of the animals. Young children might not be old enough for some volunteer activities (e.g., walking dogs), but there are often other ways that they can help. For example, they could create “Adopt me” bandanas or stuff Kongs with peanut butter for dog treats.
  • For older students in middle or high school, offer them the tools and support to create their own 2025 Action Team. High school students are perfectly positioned to help spread the word about important issues, events, and petitions on social media and help with community outreach and engagement. And don’t forget that high school students are always looking for fun, creative activities to add to their résumés for new jobs and applications for college.

Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

Download the Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit (PDF 4.25 MB)

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Best Friends Animal Society is working with you to save the lives of cats and dogs all across the country, giving pets second chances and happy homes.

Just a few short years ago, cats and dogs were killed in staggering numbers in this country simply because shelters didn't have the community support or the resources to save their lives. That number is now less that half a million per year, but there's still work to do to ensure a bright future for every dog and cat in America.

Best Friends operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals and is committed to saving the lives of homeless pets by working with shelters and passionate people like you. Together, we will bring the whole country to no-kill in 2025. Together, we will Save Them All.