One Buckeye Career Center student is spreading her love for animals to the classroom and the local humane society. Madison Vanfossen, a junior from New Philadelphia, is enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program at Buckeye Career Center. Vanfossen participates in the career-technical organization Family, Career and Community Leaders of America or FCCLA and selected an advocacy project focused on animals as her project for the year.

Vanfossen has volunteered at the Tuscarawas County Humane Society for the past four years, so she says promoting animal welfare was an easy FCCLA project choice for her. As part of her project, Vanfossen conducted interviews with the local humane society director, humane officer, and a dog trainer. She then started educating others by presenting to her Early Childhood Education student peers, teaching an animal welfare lesson to preschoolers and organized a volunteer day at the humane society. "I taught my peers how to help and how they can work to make a difference of their own," said Vanfossen. Vanfossen also worked to make sure each age group could understand animal neglect and how it can be prevented. "With the preschoolers, I talked about keeping our animal friends happy and healthy and providing the right size of housing and the right amount of food," said Vanfossen. "If we have a big horse, we don't want to feed it as much as a little hamster." Vanfossen believes the lessons and volunteer day at the humane society opened the eyes of her peers but also gave her a better idea of what knowledge others have on specific topics and problems plaguing our communities. "I didn't realize the lack of knowledge some people really have. You can't assume they already know things, you have to help them learn," said Vanfossen.

Vanfossen's FCCLA project wraps up with the state competition Thursday. The results will be announced Friday. Vanfossen plans to continue to advocate for animals as she just this week began fostering two neglected cats from the humane society.