Barry Stewart, a Jacksonville, Florida high school shop teacher has found a unique way to educate and motivate his students in the field of construction. Instead of building coat racks or napkin holders, Stewart’s students learn to construct animal houses and donate them to help pets in need.
He began his project in 2002 after hearing about the Forsyth County Animal Control’s Houses for Hounds program. Houses for Hounds began at a Winston-Salem, NC career center where first year carpentry students constructed dog houses to be donated to local animal welfare groups and low income pet owners.
Mr. Stewart recognized the potential for a similar assignment to motivate his own students. In constructing pet shelters, the kids not only learn to build homes for humans on a smaller scale, also they learn to innovate changes to the design to make the houses better for the animals.
Throughout the course of the project, students have suggested such practical ideas as moving the entrances to the side to provide more shelter from wind and rain. They created removable roofs to allow for easier cleaning and removal of feral kittens for spaying and neutering purposes. The students have also added a feeding station feature to the original design.
Since Mr. Stewart began assigning the project, his students have built and donated more than 600 doghouses and 110 feral cat homes. Their creations are taken to organizations like Friends of Jacksonville Animals and EPIC Animals Outreach, who then distribute them to low income families.
Animal welfare field officers keep some of the houses on hand to give to owners with outdoor pets. They use each opportunity to educate these community members on the dangers of leaving pets exposed to the elements.
Through the Houses for Hounds project students learn a valuable life skill while discovering the importance of giving back to their community and helping animals in need.
H/T to dogtime.com