On 4/30/15, Project R.E.A.C.H. students embarked on a trip to visit Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, NJ. This lovely sanctuary is tucked onto 171 acres on the edge of the New Jersey Pinelands and touts a Nature Center, an outdoor housing area for resident wildlife (who could not be released back into the wild due to permanent disability), and a rehabilitation hospital. The refuge relies upon donations to help them work to achieve their mission.
When we arrived at the Refuge, we were greeted by Ms. Erin Kiefer who is the wonderful educational director for the refuge. Ms. Erin took us on a tour of the outdoor housing area, where students learned about the different residents, their stories, fun facts about their species, and how they came to be at the refuge. Ms. Erin answered all of our questions about the amazing animals in their care and explained how important it is to not keep wild or exotic animals as pets. She knew about our work to promote adoption and encouraged the students to tell their families and friends that there are plenty of wonderful domesticated animals waiting for a home in shelters waiting for homes and that it was important to let wild animals (no matter how adorable) stay in the wild.
We also took a trek through trails at the refuge, with Ms. Erin providing us with some survival tips, letting us chomp on some teaberry (minty fresh), inspect moss, spy on some camouflaged critters, and enjoy nature. After our hike, we broke for lunch. We made sure to throw away our trash and to recycle properly, with Mrs. Sears bagging up the refuse to take with us to return to school.
After lunch, we went inside the refuge to have up close and personal encounters with wild animals who live at the refuge. We were really excited and asked many questions. We even were able to carefully pet a turtle and a pine snake! At the end of the day, we certainly were sad to leave, but we had an awesome time learning about the Refuge and how we can help wild animals in need. With our return to school, we had a debrief and reflected on our experiences.
Innovations in Special Education Award
On Monday, May 11, 2015, Mrs. Sears traveled to Princeton to accept an Award from the New Jersey School Boards Association regarding her development and implementation of Project R.E.A.C.H. Mrs. Sears was accompanied by her loving parents, Mrs. Dale, SCSSSD Board President Dave Moffett, District Superintendent Jack Swain, and Daretown School Principal, Dr. D'Amato.
Mrs. Sears arrived early to set up a display area where materials and information and artifacts of student work and crafts could be shared. Mrs. Sears spent much of the morning talking to people about what we do with Project R.E.A.C.H., sharing information, and answering people's questions. Our work was very well received and people were very interested and extremely inspired by what we do. While at the pre-ceremony activities, generous donors helped us to accumulate over $18 for our "Change for Critters Challenge" which seeks to raise $100 by June 2016 to sponsor an adoptable dog's donation fee. That's a great start!
After we were ushered in for lunch, Mrs. Sears was called up to accept the Innovations in Special Education Award in front of a ballroom full of guests. What an amazing day. It's also important to note that Mrs. Sears also received commendation for her efforts from the Salem County Special Services School District, which was very nice.
Our trip to visit our friends at Salem County Humane Society was incredible! We had several stations to attend to including canvas painting, reading to and coloring with kitties, developing frames and DIY cat toys, and creating Public Service Announcements. In spite of the rain, we had a wonderful time. However, we were very thankful Mrs. Sears brought a pop-up tent! Phew! It was great to hang out with the adoptable animals and be able to give back. Our time at the humane society is never long enough! If you have time, please consider spending some time volunteering at your local humane society/ rescue/ shelter because the adoptable pets surely enjoy it.
It's also important to remember that shelters like SCHS always need donations to help them provide care for the animals staying there. Be generous and give from your heart, and remember that there is no donation too small to help. It all adds up.
As Mrs. Sears has posted, we have worked closely with 5414 Productions, the non-profit film company that developed the documentary Dog By Dog. Mrs. Sears had the honor of attending the Philadelphia Premiere of the film on May 14th. The film is incredible and is a must-see. If you haven't heard about this documentary, please check out its website at www.dogbydogdocumentary.com and its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DogByDog . Stay tuned for future collaborations...big things are in store!!
Project R.E.A.C.H.'s 2nd Anniversary
It's hard to believe it, but Project R.E.A.C.H. turned 2 on June 20, 2015. It has been an amazing two years and it's going to continue to be important as we continue to give back to our community. We are excited for what the future holds and look forward to your continued support.
Where We are Now!
As an update, our charity cookbook is coming along well, but it is going to take Mrs. Sears some time to fully assemble so it is a fundraiser that will make us proud. In the mean time, if you have any recipes that you haven't had the chance to share with us, please feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com or message us on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/projectreach2013. The fundraiser will hopefully be able to begin at some time in the fall/ winter of the 2015-2016 school year. Sorry for the delay!
Video Development/ Change for Critters Challenge
Prior to the end of the school year, several students developed videos to promote humane messaging as well as our endeavor to collect $100 by June 2016 in order to sponsor an adoptable dog's adoption fee at Salem County Humane Society. Mrs. Sears will be posting some of these videos throughout the summer, so please share to help the message reach far and wide. :)
School may be out, but the work continues for Mrs. Sears as she continues planning for the new school year. What can we do? Where can we go? How do you R.E.A.C.H.? Share your ideas by messaging or e-mailing us! Don't forget to Tweet at us @ProjectREACH13 and Vines will be coming in the new school year.
As always, thank you for your support as we show the world how we share our hearts.