We are so grateful to Rotary Club of Santa Fe and Pancakes on the Plaza for their generous support of our student training programs. In January this year Rotary Club of Santa Fe gifted ADW $5000 toward our student trainers. (Pancakes on the Plaza was held this year July 4th on the Plaza of Santa Fe from 7 a.m. to noon.) Photos: Jenny Reichert
As many of you know, our student training programs are the largest of their kind in the world. At ADW we teach students to train dogs to help people. It’s easy to repeat that line but the fact is that student training achieves remarkable growth in the lives of the young people that our programs serve.
We figured that the best way to tell you more about how student training works at ADW would be to ask our Youth Board President, Jenny Reichert. Jenny started with us as a student trainer in 2009 when she was only 11 years old.
“I started in the after-school program and the people who were teaching it were Linda (Milanesi) and Jill (Felice), the two most prominent trainers in the ADW program,” Jenny recalls.
“The first dog I trained was called Lily. She was a yellow Lab. She was a really great dog. When she went to placement, ADW let me go and work with her partner. I made a really good friendship with that person” Jenny relates.
Lily the Lab chose a career as a seizure alert dog in Arizona. Jenny’s second assistance dog-trainee was Beatrice, a Lab-Great Dane cross who today works as a mobility assistance dog for a man who has muscular dystrophy.
“Beatrice helps him get out of bed. She pulls his wheelchair. She gets Cokes for him out of the fridge,” Jenny says. Jenny student-trained Beatrice to reinforce many of those mobility-assistance-dog skills that keep transforming the life of her human and improving his quality of life substantially.
Jenny says that for her personally, it’s been “huge” to be able to meet the clients who become the human family of the dogs she’s helped to train. “It’s nice to see where they’re going, what skills they’re using and how they get along,” she says.
Jenny’s leadership at ADW has been outstanding. She became Youth Board President two years ago when she was just 15. She’s 17 now and realizes she’s going to be handing over that title to somebody new when she leaves for college in 2016.
As to the self-knowledge that Jenny’s gained from being a student trainer, “I had a lot of issues when I became a trainer’s assistant (TA),” she says. “I used to be jealous of a lot of things. I learned how to deal with my own emotions.
“I got a lot more patient. I got value out of what I was doing. I was doing something influential that changed somebody’s life.”
More than 50 student trainers are participating in the four summer camps that ADW is running in 2015, Jenny says. Another 40-50 children will sign up for the after-school fall semester programs.
Rotary Club’s support for our student trainers is so appreciated that Jenny took Tahiti out to the Santa Fe Plaza early to show off her restraint even with pancakes. Tahiti as you can see loved every minute of it.
“The important things that student trainers get out of our programs are really limitless,” Jenny says. “It’s really helped to expand me as a person.”
We hope you’ll join with our great friends at Rotary Club of Santa Fe to become a 20th anniversary canine champion during this, our 20th year. (Click here to donate now!) Help us raise another $1000 in July toward our student training programs!
But in the meantime another good way to start is to go to the Santa Fe Plaza on the Fourth of July and do as Tahiti did: Eat (or lick) pancakes!!