It’s been six months since Jennifer Blome left her desk at NewsChannel 5 to become the Director of Humane Education at the APA. She sat down to talk about her new line of work and how life has changed since leaving the morning newscast.
Why did you leave broadcast journalism to join the APA?
The APA has always had a special place in my heart because of its neighborhood feel. I have enjoyed working at the Canine Carnival over the years. I was also drawn to the APA’s mission of bringing people and pets together and the focus on education. Although I enjoyed being part of so many people’s morning routine over the years, I felt it was time to explore another passion of mine- animal welfare.
What has been the biggest change in starting this new career?
The biggest change? Getting up in the morning instead of the middle of the night (5:30 a.m. vs. 1:30 a.m.) Not having to wear dresses and false eyelashes is a major change, too. Seeing sunsets and sunrises is a special treat, although I’m finding it a challenge to stay awake past 8:30 pm. I guess that happens after decades of working overnights.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
Each day is different. I spent a lot of time this summer at area preschools and day camps, teaching Kind Kids and Animal Safety Classes. I often team teach with our Education volunteers, and we always have canine helpers. We recently had an APA Animal Safety Day at Little Flower School in Richmond Heights. We have presentations planned at Fontbonne University, the Gatesworth Senior Living, and Robinson Elementary School in Kirkwood. Once the APA construction is complete, we’ll be able to teach classes and resume our birthday parties on-site.
What has been the biggest challenge in taking on this new career?
Moving from the corporate world to the non-profit world is a big change. At one of the first staff meetings I attended, I announced my need for 12 Education Training manuals. Someone showed me the way to the printer and gave me a code, hole puncher and donated binders. Got it. And the Canine Carnival – I had NO idea how much work was involved! This year, I worried about things I never gave a thought to in past years. (Will the media types show up on time to judge the canine contests? They did.) There’s so much hard, physical labor involved. My colleagues here at the APA are impressive. And strong!
What do you like the most about your new job?
I love teaching children about kindness and compassion towards animals. I love helping them learn how to be safe around dogs and cats. In every class, we ask how many children have been bitten by dogs. A LOT of hands go up. Children and adults seem surprised to learn there are approximately 15 dogs and 45 cats for each person. It helps them understand the importance of spay and neuter. I know we can’t adopt our way out of the pet overpopulation problem in this generation, but teaching young children helps. So I hope we are providing a valuable service. And aside from teaching, it’s a privilege to come to work every day and be part of a team of people so committed to helping animals.
What would you most like to accomplish as the Director of Humane Education?
I hope to help get the word out about the APA – who we are and what we do- how the community can help us in our mission. There is so much negativity on the news, but there are positive things happening in the world, too. There are good people doing good things. Look at all the volunteers who keep us going. The APA is about happy endings. We help homeless animals find homes. Many live happily ever after. Why shouldn’t that be news?