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Program Gets Teens on Track to Careers with Animals

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Hollie Bowman will be feeding and caring for animals, including cleaning their cages, over the next several Saturdays, and the North-central Phoenix teenager isn’t getting paid a cent… or complaining.

Bowman, 17, is looking forward to a career in veterinary medicine, and has been participating in the “Teen Tracks” Program of the Arizona Animal Welfare League and Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (AAWL & SPCA) since she was 13.

“I’m looking forward to learning even more about reaching out to the public and helping them to understand how vital it is to take proper care of their animals,” in the upcoming session, she says. She also wants to learn the business side of running an animal shelter.

The project-based program provides a rewarding experience for kids 13 to 17 who love animals and are thinking of careers working with dogs, cats, horses or even exotic animals. In addition to assisting with the daily care and adoption of animals at the AAWL & SPCA shelter, Teen Trackers receive in-depth training in animal body language and animal handling skills, observe and assist shelter veterinary clinic staff, participate in guest presentations and educational field trips, and help lead other education programs held at the shelter.

The program costs $175, and teens participate in a minimum of six weekend shifts during the 13-week course. They must complete an application and essay to be considered for the program, and submit at least two recommendations from teachers, school staff or community leaders with the application. Applications for the next semester of Teen Tracks are due Set. 3.

Bowman’s mother, Clare Abel, heard about AAWL & SPCA’s summer camp from a friend when Hollie was 7. Hollie attended camp every summer through age 12, and was later invited into the Teen Tracks program.

“I cannot see myself in a career field that does not involve animals,” says Bowman, who attends Valley Lutheran High School. “I have already been accepted into Anthem College to become a veterinary technician. I’m interested in a career as a humane law enforcement officer but, as long as I’m making a difference in the lives of those animals that have no other voice, I’ll be happy.”

Arizona Animal Welfare League Program Starts Sept. 17; Applications Due Sept. 3 For more information about the Teen Tracks Program, contact Michelle Ramos at MRamos@aawl.org  or 602-273-6852, ext. 121, or Rachael Gardner at RGardner@aawl.org, or 602-273-6852, ext. 122.

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