Jul 01

A Visit with Local Neighbors

Sometimes people reserve the word “neighbor” for humans alone. But here I want to speak about my nonhuman neighbors and what they do for me. I live in New England, and to make sure I stay in touch with both myself and my local world, each day I try to walk in my community’s “town forest,” which is a typical mixed wood with both conifers and deciduous trees over very diverse undergrowth. While there is much research that says walking in the nature is good for my brain and other parts of my body (summarized nicely in Chapter 7 of Ratey and Manning’s 2014 Go Wild), what I particularly notice and enjoy is something else, namely, merely glimpsing other animals whether they be frogs, snakes, butterflies, turkeys, white tailed deer, hawks, woodpeckers, owls, a variety of songbirds and more.

 

Frankly, my sense is that most of the time these neighbors in the local forest hide, slipping away as I approach. But when they do show themselves, and especially when they linger to take my measure, I find that I arrive at myself in a way that does not happen often in the exclusively human world so dominated by carpentered, built spaces and humans’ relentless self-focus.

I try to be respectful of the privilege of noticing these neighbors—I am, after all, walking through their home even though the law of my own kind says that humans alone, and certainly not any nonhumans, own and control this wood. Our laws ignore—indeed, are altogether autistic about—something truly basic about the woods where I walk. My nonhuman neighbors transform those parts where I walk because my encounters, though brief, feature an energy that my human world only rarely supplies. And there is another miracle, too—any subsequent time I traverse a path along which I have previously spied one of these neighbors, I find the place has changed, and so have I. As if on cue, when I again come to a place where a previous encounter occurred, I eagerly look about, staying respectful, to see if the neighbor I saw previously is anywhere nearby. It is as if the encounter had consecrated that very spot, and I easily feel this when I return. 

 

These encounters and their effects inform my teaching in many ways, one of which is summarized by the geologian Thomas Berry: “we consider ourselves blessed, healed in some manner, forgiven and for a moment transported into some other world, when we catch a passing glimpse of an animal in the wild” (A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics, page 7).

 

These visits with my neighbors anchor me in the realization that I, my family, and all the graduate students and undergraduates I teach also live in a world that can be enchanted if we will notice and take other animals seriously and thereby learn that all of us share community in a more-than-human world.

~ Dr. Paul Waldau
Director and Professor of the Anthrozoology program
 

Jun 17

No Formal Education with Animals? No Problem!

 

My love of technology

 

My love of animals

When I first applied to the Anthrozoology program at Canisius, I had some concerns about my lack of formal education with animals. Currently, I am working full time at Microsoft as a Software Consultant. My Bachelor’s and Master’s are in Computer Science. I also have a minor in Mathematics. I have not had any classes or jobs that dealt with animals. 

One of the great aspects about the Anthrozoology program at Canisius is they consider applicants with a Bachelor’s degree in any major. I was worried since Computer Science and Mathematics are so unrelated to animals, I would struggle and feel out of place in the program. Boy, was I wrong! All of our student’s backgrounds are so diverse. We have students with biology backgrounds, as well as nursing, legal documentation, anthropology, and much more. We even have another fellow computer scientist! The diverse nature of our student’s backgrounds is what helps make the program so unique and successful. Everyone has their own skills, personal experiences, stories, point of views, and thoughts about the various topics we study. You may look at something one way and the viewpoint of a fellow student opens your eyes, helping you see it in a different light.

Jun 11

Spotlight on Canisius Anthrozoology Projects: FosterFit

One of the most rewarding aspects of the Canisius Anthrozoology program is the diversity of student interests, which results in a wide range of thoughtful, original research and initiatives. Sure, we can (and do) wax poetic about our favorite nonhuman animals, and they range from elephants to rhinoceroses to cows to domestic cats. But we also conduct research and implement programs that help to improve the lives of these animals, as well as our own. A standout project developed by Lea Lynch, a member of the program’s first entering class, does just that.

 

FosterFit dogs Elly and Sadie do some “Doga” with their humans in the Doggie & Me Yoga class

FosterFit was the brainchild of Lynch’s observation that while Americans are in desperate need of a personal wellness overhaul, Western medicine can be intimidating and unapproachable. To lessen some of the anxiety associated with doctor visits, prescription drugs, and strict medical regimes, Lynch piloted a free program that enriches participants both socially and physically, based on research demonstrating the benefits of canines as sources of support. As Lynch points out, “A dog will never say ‘no thanks’ to getting out of the house for a brisk walk or other fun fitness activities.”

 

 

 

Adonis learns how to navigate the Treat Tunnel at FitPet™ class

Each participant fostered a specially-selected dog from the Humane Society for Greater Savannah (HSGS), living, eating, and exercising daily with the dog for the duration of the ten-week pilot. Health Restoration 101 of Savannah, Georgia counseled human participants on healthy eating, based on nutrient-dense, plant-based foods, and Kayla Moreau, a fellow Canisius Anthrozoology student, provided expertise and guidance on nutrition for foster dogs. The YMCA of Coastal Georgia provided fitness instruction, including enjoyable activities such as fetch races, dog relays, and agility work. Weekly fitness events, as well as periodic social events, created opportunities for participants to interact with each other, and dog training classes sponsored by HSGS provided further opportunities for participants to bond with their canine companions. As an incentive to monitor and track activity, as well as celebrate their fitness achievements, human participants wore Fitbit technology, and dogs wore Whistle collars, both of which track daily activity and rest. At the end of the program, participants and their dogs gathered for a celebratory picnic and closing ceremony.

 

Wendy and Dixon, FosterFit partners, doing a meet & greet at a local pet fair

While official data have not yet been tabulated, Lynch spoke informally with participants, who reported that they had lost weight, felt that their emotional states had improved, and that they developed strong bonds with not only their foster dogs, but their fellow human participants, sustaining friendships beyond their participation in FosterFit. Incredibly, six of eight participants adopted their foster dogs, while one stayed with her human as a continued foster, and one was adopted out to another family. Optimum physical and mental health elude much of the American population, but social support is continually cited as an important factor in sustained efforts toward betterment. FosterFit’s commitment to social support, both human and canine, uniquely positioned the program to succeed. In addition, formerly homeless dogs were placed into loving homes with those who forged a bond with them over the ten-week period, ensuring continuing emotional and physical support for both.

For more information about FosterFit, please visit http://www.fosterfit.org.

 

 

 

 

Jun 04

Four Years with Jane Goodall

The season of family picnics and reunions draws near which means I’m drafting up my responses to my favorite question: “Anthrozoology? What are you going to do with that degree?”

The good news is that I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been working in my field for almost four years now and I absolutely LOVE my job. My own parents (who are just thrilled for me) even roll their eyes when they have to hear me rave about having my dream job. The sad truth is that it seems uncommon to love your job these days. So, I repeat, I am one of the lucky ones.

Dr. Jane's visit to Canisius, 2010

In 2010, I was serving as the Senior Fellow for the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations (ISHAR) at Canisius. ISHAR was just starting and some how, some way, we were lucky enough to kick off the speaker series with Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE. Dr. Jane delivered her lecture, “Gombe and Beyond: The Next 50 Years,” and captured my heart (along with 2,500 other hearts at the KAC that day).

I’m know I’m not the only young person who met Dr. Jane and subsequently declared that I would work for her some day. During her visit to Canisius, I learned about the Jane Goodall Institute’s global humanitarian youth program, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. In fact, hundreds of thousands of young people in more than 120 countries around the world are following in Dr. Jane’s footsteps as well.

With Dr. Jane in Costa Rica, 2015

When I finished my undergraduate degree (in political science with minors in zoo biology and anthrozoology – wait, what?), I scored a fellowship with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots and spent a short time working in an office in Danbury, CT. From there, I was offered a full time position as the Program Coordinator and I was given the gift of being able to work from home in WNY.

I am living in a city that I love – a city that raised me – doing a job that I love. Every day, I get to work with young people and their mentors all over the world who are making a positive difference for people, animals, and the environment. We call ourselves the “next generation of Jane Goodalls.” We’ve tasked ourselves with ensuring a bright future for the Earth and all of the beings that live here. Very anthrozoology.

May 14

Adios, Canisius!

Hello, Canisius!

Wow! It’s hard to believe that I have officially completed my Masters degree! Two and half years of hard work and graduate school is a wrap!

That being said, this is also my very last blog post :(

Internship 1... So many great memories!

I don’t even know where to begin in talking about all of the things I truly love about Canisius.

I actually found Canisius pretty randomly. My high school counselor went here and when I decided to pursue a Masters in school counseling, I looked at her Facebook page and saw that she attended Canisius. I did very little research on the school and decided to apply about a week before I walked at my undergraduate commencement. I said my prayers and sent in my application, and about six weeks later I was accepted! My mother was the one to inform me of the news over the phone when she called and as soon as she read my acceptance letter, I said to myself: “You’re really moving to Buffalo.” Little did I know, this decision would be the most life changing choice I have made.

Internship 2... Many more great learning experiences and fun!

Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to speak to TWO students who are attending Canisius next year. One graduate student coming to the school counseling program and one high school student in one of the classes I coteach who is attending Canisius in the fall for business. The graduate student I saw seemed very excited and enthusiastic about starting her new experience. The high school student’s face lit up when he talked about starting at Canisius. I loved telling both incoming students how much I love Canisius and they seemed very appreciative of the fact that I spoke highly of the college. I found myself getting a little emotional at the thought of knowing that I will not be a student there anymore. I love having these experiences to share my love for learning, Buffalo, and Canisius with potential and incoming students. They have so much fire in their eyes and I know they want to be successful at Canisius.

At Canisius, I have had the opportunity to be in the presence of such inspirational people throughout the past few years. From positive professors and mentors to and encouraging college personnel, my life has been forever changed.

The Canisius counseling program has taught me to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning and growing. This started in my practicum and internship experiences. As I was practicing my skills and actually making mistakes, that is how I was LEARNING.

Celebrating with my closest friends and a former student and friend!

This program has taught me to extend myself and step outside of my comfort zone to open myself to novel experiences. I have done this in professional, social, and personal aspects of my life. I understand the importance and the value in engaging in experiences that may make me feel a little uncomfortable. Throughout my time at Canisius, I have been a part of various experiences that I never ever would have had the courage or mind-set to do had it not been for my experiences at Canisius College.

My cap! This shouldn't surprise anyone!

I have recently been offered a job in Florida, and I am considering making this my step in my career. I think I had a I not been through this program, I never would have grown in to the woman I am today. I am so very thankful for the many experiences that Canisius has offered me to grow and learn both as a student but as a person.

Being a student blogger for the program has allowed me to represent Canisius as a student and as an individual. I have reflected on myself, my counseling skills, and my positive (and negative) experiences through my blog. I have met people and read about their own students at Canisius that I never would have done if I hadn’t blogged for my program. I remember when I received an email asking me to join the team and I was so excited to represent my college.

If you’re reading this as a potential graduate student, this is me telling you to GO FOR IT! Whether it be counseling, education, or any other program, Canisius is a great environment to learn and grow. If you’re still a student, keep soaking up Canisius. Graduation will come and you will look back and realize WHO you are.

Be who you are becoming.

Peace and love.

May 12

Crushing Minds One Day At A Time

I cannot believe this semester is finally over.  It has honestly been a tough semester for me with all of the work, but I am proud that I was able to accomplish everything that I did.  One of my classes, EDDI 515, was a class that I really enjoyed.  One of the awesome activities that we were able to do over the course of the class was to plan an activities night for students in the 4th and 5th grade at Windermere Boulevard School in Amherst.

 

The night that we were planning for all started back when we first visited the school earlier in the semester.  Our professor, Dr. Julie Henry, wanted us to see what a gifted program was like, and the teacher Lindsay, was actually an alumni of the program.  She was great!  She showed us many different things that her students have done as well as some of the things she was planning on doing with them.  It was actually really nice to see some of the things that can be found in a gifted classroom.  It wasn’t necessarily hands on, but it was first hand experience that I am sure eased a lot of minds in the room that night.  Everyone, including myself, were learning about gifted children throughout the semester in this class and EDDI 520, but none of us never really had the experience of working with gifted students.  We didn’t really know what a gifted classroom should look like or what type of work a gifted teacher has to do.  It was really nice being able to see these different things so we do not enter an environment like that blindly.

 

After that day, the teacher at WBS came back to Canisius help us out with the case study that was a course requirement.  Without getting too much into detail, each of us had to watch a student for a few days and then create a plan for that gifted student.  Lindsay was giving us the option to come back to WBS and observe a child from her class.  While she was there, we started talking about doing a night at her school that would give her gifted students, as well as other students in the school, a “Mind Crushers” night.  This night would have us all creating high level games for students to come in and try.

From then on out, we spent some time each class thinking about this idea.  What would it be called?  What would we do?  What grade levels would we include?  How long would it be?  We decided to call it “Mind Crushers” and include students in 4th and 5th grade for an hour.  The graduate students would create puzzles or different activities that would push children to think more creatively and critically.  Most of us paired up and we began to create the activity we would bring with us that night.  Our professor even got her husband and his science methods class involved from Buff State.  This was great because it gave the children more options to choose from!

 

That night, I was not sure what to expect.  I was not sure if a lot of parents would bring their children or if the children would have fun with what we provided.  In that hour, we had a line of students that were waiting to try our activity.  We also notice lines at every other station around us.  It was full!  Many parents decided to bring their children!  I was so happy to see so many families there.  And on top of just bringing their children, they were super involved with what was happening.  Many of the parents decided to sit with their children at each station and actually participate with them.  Often times during nights like this, we see children that are participating in the activity while the parents gather in a corner and talk to one another.  That was definitely the opposite situation here.  Personally, I loved seeing the parents and children working together!

 

Overall, I think it had been a successful night, as did my fellow classmates and teacher.  I think the children and parents enjoyed themselves as did we.  I hope this is something that my professor continues to do.  What an enjoyable way to end the semester!

 

 

May 11

Community Day

 

...Happy Snowman!

 

 

 

Happy Summer!

 

 

 

 

 

I finally finished all of my final exams and papers!  It is a great feeling to have about 1.5 weeks of a mini summer vacation.  Summer classes start on Monday May 18th, as well as my internship!  After searching and applying all year long to positions, I finally was offered an internship in accounting for the summer!!!  I’ll keep you updated with future blog posts. :-)

We're painting the roses red!

So I wanted to tell you about this awesome campus event that happens every fall and spring semesters,  Community Day!  On Saturday, April 18th, over 400 Canisius students volunteered at non-profit organizations throughout the city of Buffalo.  Many groups on campus organized their own teams to volunteer at sites.  Accounting Society had 14 students volunteer their Saturday morning, including me.  Even as a grad student you can volunteer!

 

 

 

We went to the Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic Church located at 317 Leroy Avenue and we spent the morning repainting their guard rails in the church’s parking lot yellow.  Next time, I definitely won’t be wearing jeans to Community Day, because I got them covered in paint!  We all had a fun time helping to paint in the warm sunshine.

Accounting Society Volunteers

Front of Blessed Trinity

After painting, we all got a tour of the beautiful church.  The church is a Nationally recognized historic landmark!  It was built in 1923 and is one of the best examples in the United States of the 12th century Lombard-Romanesque architecture of Northern Italy.

 

Community Day was a great way to volunteer and give back to Western New York.  If you’re looking to get involved beyond community day, I suggest checking out Canisius’s Community Service webpage.

 

PS: A year ago today (May 7th) I was accepted into the MBA program here at Canisius!  Isn’t that crazy how much changes in a year?  Last time this year I was still working with Toddlers at Doodlebugs and trying to decide what my next career move would be.  Where were you a year ago??  And to think that this time NEXT year, I will be preparing to graduate!

Here’s a funny Jimmy Fallon bit about Mother’s Day, as it is on May 10th!

https://youtu.be/hfiG9Nsnrmc

 

 

May 11

How an Anthrozoology Online Class Operates

If you have never taken an online class at Canisius, you may wonder what you should expect. Canisius utilizes two software programs in their Anthrozoology program. These programs are Desire2Learn (D2L) and GoToMeeting (GTM).

Desire2Learn is an eLearning program that offers many capabilities. The Anthrozoology professors use this as one of their main classroom tools. The following is a list of the most commonly used functions of D2L.

  • Content – This is where professors upload course readings, assignment instructions, and any other material needed tor the class.
  • Discussion – A blog where the professor and students can collaborate, exchange ideas, and talk about the current class topic.
  • Dropbox – A repository to submit papers and other assignments to the professor.
  • Grades – View the grades for your assignments and any feedback the professor left.
  • Classlist – View the names, email addresses and profile picture of your professor and the students in your class.

 

GoToMeeting is a tool used to hold interactive, online meetings. Your professor and fellow classmates are able to join the same meeting and collaborate in real time. You are able to dial in with your phone to listen and participate in voice conversations. For the full experience, connecting with an internet enabled device allows you not only voice, but also video, chat, and desktop sharing. If you miss a meeting or want to listen to part of the conversation again, meetings are able to recorded to be saved as an mp3 file.

 

Even if you typically struggle with technology, GoToMeeting and Desire2Learn are easy to learn. You will spend less time worrying about the technology, and more time focusing on your classwork.

 

May 08

Demystifying Therapy Part 2: Homework

Homework is an interesting and wildly debated counseling phenomenon. Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Therapy, always incorporated homework into his counseling sessions. He did this for two reasons, the first of which was had to do with his own personal successes at finding change. He used to be dreadfully nervous around women and struggled relating to women and more particularly, asking women on dates. He put his counseling knowledge to the test by devising an experiment for himself. He spent all day in Central Park asking random women out for a date. To his surprise, several actually said yes to him, shattering his irrational belief that he was unable to get a date. He imported this process into his counseling practice by tailoring each homework assignment to his client’s needs. For instance, a client who is dysfunctionally obsessive about keeping his car clean may be asked to drive down a muddy country road and keep himself from cleaning the car for one night.

albert ellis

Albert Ellis

The second reason Ellis incorporated homework into his practice was due to the simple rationality that clients only see the counselor for one hour a week. Most change takes place outside of the counselor’s office due to the shear amount of time spent outside. So the counselor might as well direct how the client spend some of his or her time outside the counseling session. Of course, people will do what they want to do and mental health counselors will need to take this reality into account. This is why the proponents of Solution Focused Therapy insist that the “homework assignment” (more appropriately understood as the out-of-session solution to the client’s difficulty) should always come from the client since only then will the client actually follow through with the action.

Should homework assignments as used in counseling even be called “homework assignments?” While the idea of homework does convey the thought that the client is to work on therapy outside of the therapist’s office, it also implies that the work outside of the office MUST be completed and is for a grade, just like schoolwork. This is why Gestalt therapists use the word “experiment” in place of “homework.” That way the client is free to engage in the activity if he or she wants, or he or she could pass over this opportunity. In my own practice, I plan on referring to homework assignments as opportunities, activities, or experiments to avoid the negative connotation that my clients may have to the drudgery of past homework assignments. However, to avoid confusion, I’m going to refer to all such experiments as homework assignments for the entirety of this post.

toilet paper behind shoe

Homework in action.

One of the more imaginative homework assignments that I have read about in the past was given to a client who thought that everyone was watching and judging her flaws. So the counselor ingeniously had her go to the restroom in a busy mall, stuff toilet paper in her shoe and allow about two feet of the paper to trail behind her. Then she walked around the mall, acting as normal as she could with such an embarrassing paper accessory. No one commented on it. However, the client then took the experiment to the next level and approached random strangers to ask them if they had noticed her bathroom blunder. To her astonishment, most had not even been aware of such an obvious “mistake.” This confirmed the irrationality of her thought that “everyone notices every little flaw that I have.”
However, what do counselors assign to clients who likely won’t benefit from such a bold and active experiment? Journal writing is a popular assignment, along with self-help reading (also known as “bibliotherapy”). Dr. Yalom, whom I’ve mentioned an affinity for before, once assigned a dream journal to a particularly uninsightful client to great effect, since his unconscious existential needs and desires communicated through his graphic dreams.

In short, a client who seeks counseling should expect to put in some work outside of the counselor’s office to promote real and lasting change.

May 07

Meditating Your Way Through Finals

Hey there Griffs!

Finals week is that magical time that happens at the end of every semester when we have to try and cram everything that we learned during the semester back into our brains so that we can try and pass a test. There’s long nights, lots of time spent with notes, and a high stress environment. But there are ways that I have personally learned to make it bearable. One of those ways is meditation. Research has proven that meditation can help to lower stress levels and in turn, help you to learn more information faster.

Some people don’t think that they can do it because they’ve never practiced it or it won’t work for them. But, I have learned that it is all about being open minded and you don’t even need to just sit cross legged in silence for a long period of time. There are multiple forms of mediation that allow you to listen to soothing music, or listen to directions to calm your mind, or there are even some active forms of meditation. I’m going to tell you some of the ways that I have personally used and I hope they help you through this tough time.

 

Music Meditation

Music alone is proven to help keep our focus and help productivity. It helps us to keep our brain on task. Sometimes the silence is even more stressful.  I find it useful to listen to soothing music if I am in high stress situations, such as finals. Plug in your headphones and feel instantly relaxed! There are playlists on Pandora and Spotify that will play soothing meditations and zen songs. I’ll link a few of my favorites below:

 

Pandora:

Zen Garden Radio: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637545201912427396

Calm Meditation: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637547151827579780

Soothing Sounds: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637548899879269252

 

Spotify:

Study Music for Concentration:  https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/7bzY4YsfpErw3uTDQKk0Rs

Yoga and Meditation Music: https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/7vlOdA2dBKMZ4i8RnLHQeX

Weekend Relaxation: https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/0U2qp6ruC3IeQ6VtVotI42

Just pop these songs on when you’re studying or writing your final papers and feel instantly calmed. They typically won’t have any words so that rids the distraction of music that you would want to sing to. I find this really soothing and helpful.

 

Guided Meditation

Guided Meditation is a technique that you should do while you aren’t doing anything else. It should be a time to take a break from studying and give your brain a bit of rest. You need to either sit on a comfy chair, on the floor, or I find it most relaxing to lay on my bed. The audio will walk you through the deep breathing and directions and you just need to follow along. It is NOT a hypnosis. You are always in complete control of your mind and you can open your eyes at any time. I find this technique the most helpful for me. It may leave you tired when you are done for about 15 minutes, but then I always get a burst of energy as if I’ve taken a nap. I also like to use these to help me sleep at night when I have anxiety or stress. I’ll link some of my favorite ones below.

My most favorite Guided Meditation:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEl6_pRK4-w&list=FLE23xK_t5WQUkTyQbi-_5kQ&index=23

Deep Relaxation: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jyy0ra2WcQQ&index=24&list=FLE23xK_t5WQUkTyQbi-_5kQ

Stress Relief: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o94tvFUttco

Anxiety Reliefhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_jcEpwKQXc

Guided Meditation for Sleephttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJjc4XreJSQ

 

Yoga

I have also found that yoga is a great way to take a break and give your brain a rest. If you are more active, this might help you get up and move a little bit and stretch your body. I am in no way a yoga master. I am still in the stretching phases. I found some guided yoga practice videos for beginners that are great. They give you just a little bit of a break and it feels great on your body.

 

 

Stretching:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o0kNeOyH98&index=1&list=PLUI5hAjVqJF5RomjMMnzML3takwht3CwB

Beginners Class:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AYKMP6rOE&index=5&list=PLUI5hAjVqJF5RomjMMnzML3takwht3CwB

Fat Burning Yoga for Beginners:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfzS2Ov6_1o&index=6&list=PLUI5hAjVqJF5RomjMMnzML3takwht3CwB

 

I wish you all the best of luck during this stressful time! I hope you can find the time to try out some of these stress relievers so that you can get a little bit of a break. Remember that taking the extra time to relieve your stress will actually save you time in the long run because you will be more focused. Good luck on your tests, papers, and presentations!

Thanks for reading and Stay Golden!

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