It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: animals

Week 51-Meet me in… Day 4-The Barn

Another beautiful Saturday spent working with animals.  I helped a couple of other graduate students with their research project today, and I loved every minute of it.  Plus we had the best BBQ sandwich I have had since moving to WV for lunch which totally made my day.  I also had to go out to the school farm and check on the cows for our lab’s research project.  As I was sitting up on top of the fence watching the cows, it hit me how lucky I am to be doing something I love.  I love animals.  I always have, and even though my career goals have changed since the age of 7, I am so thankful to truly be exactly where I am, doing exactly what I do.

I wish all barns had this view...

Being in grad school I am also surrounded by other people who love what they do.  Tina is one of those people, and you can tell she is passionate about wildlife from the first time you talk to her.  That’s why it was no surprise when I found out that she had founded the non-profit Wildlife Research & Conservation.  As the name pretty much indicates, WRC’s mission is to promote and support wildlife conservation through education and research.  WRC also works alongside zoological institutions to improve the welfare of captive animal populations.  WRC believes that these animals should be treated like the ambassadors from the wild that they are.  The knowledge that researchers are able to glean from these animals helps to improve the lives of their counterparts living in their natural environments in the wild.  WRC’s website also has a great Kids Corner with full coloring pages and facts that kids will love!  You gotta start ’em young.  That’s how I got hooked!  Even though I just discovered the non-profit Fauna & Flora International this evening, I can immediately see their passion for animals as well.  Even though they work with species that are much more rare than sheep and cows, I think we draw inspiration from the same place.  The teams that work at FFI have a special place in their hearts for the underdog.  Everyone wants to save and protect the cute cuddly animals, but they make sure that the creepy, crawly, and slimy animals like the Antiguan racer snake are protected as well.  Each animal creates a unique piece of the puzzle that we know as the world, and puzzles with missing pieces are no fun.  FFI works hard to make sure they save as many pieces as they can, no matter how small they may be.

Wildlife Research & Conservation Donation

Fauna & Flora International Donation

So here’s to the barn!  It’s the place where I learned to ride a horse, clean a stall, take a blood sample from a sheep, and ultrasound a pregnant goat.  You’ve kept me warm when it’s cold outside and dry when it’s wet.  You’re the place where I’ve shared lots of laughs and even a couple of tears.  Who knew you would be such an important place in my life.  Thanks for being my home away from home.

Like Vegas, but with more dirt

Week 50-The Golden Week, Day 5-Golden Girls

My girls!

Well, another birthday is officially in the books.  I had such an amazing day yesterday filled with love from so many wonderful friends near and far.  I got to do a little shopping, get dressed up, eat a yummy dinner, play some pool, and enjoy a few adult birthday beverages.  I also got lots of Facebook and text message love from those who were with me in spirit.  I was a tomboy growing up so it took me a little while to really appreciate good girlfriends.  Thankfully, I have some of the best ones a girl could ask for so it made the transition pretty easy.

There is no possible way that I could write about Golden Girls without mentioning the ever popular Betty White.  She is an avid supporter of PAWS/LA, which works to keep people and their pets together.  This is one charity that definitely stands out from the bunch.  PLA help low-income seniors and individuals with serious illnesses care for their pets.  Started back in 1989, PLA was founded in response to the companion animal crisis that faced those living in LA county who had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.  The cost financially and physically that this auto-immune disease took on the community left these innocent pets in need some love and attention.  Numerous studies have shown the mental and physical benefits that a pet adds to the life of its owner.  No one wants to give up their pet, and PLA does everything in their power to make sure no disease rips an animal from its master.  Betty is also on the board for the Morris Animal Foundation which envisions a healthier tomorrow for all animals.  You could say that Betty is a bit of an animal lover.  She even posed for the hilarious 2011 MAF calendar.  MAF is a world leader in advancing veterinary research that treats, protects, and cures animals all over the world.  Founded in 1948 by a veterinarian with a vision, MAF has funded more than 1,700 research projects which have led to many breakthroughs in the field of animal health.  MAF supports over 300 research projects every year at zoos, colleges of veterinary medicine, and research institutions.  No wonder the quintessential Golden Girl loves this charity!

Betty White goes all out for MAF

PAWS/LA Donation

Morris Animal Foundation Donation

So here’s to you Golden Girls!  The ones I love on the television screen and the ones I love in my life.  You’re there for me on the day of my birth, but more importantly, every other day of the year as well.  Another birthday has come and gone, but I know the Golden Girls in my life will be around till we’re old and gray.  Thank you for being a friend!

A golden night indeed

Week 37-What’s for dinner? Day 7-Beef

Beef, it’s what for dinner.  Unless you’re a vegetarian or a vegan in which case it’s more like beans for dinner.  Anyway, that doesn’t apply to our dinner tonight because we had a delicious (and calorie loaded) country fried steak with mashed potatoes and baked beans.  It was de-lic-ious!  It was also great because Scott and I have figured out that we can split an entrée at this steakhouse and each without getting too full at the same time we’re saving major dough.  It’s a win, win.  Oh, and the not cooking part is party awesome too.  Things to be thankful for just keep on coming.

I love beef, but I think cattle deserve the same respect as all other small and cuddly animals.  The World Society of the Protection of Animals envisions a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty is non-existent.  They are active in more than 50 countries working on the ground with local partners for the great effect.  WSPA also helps people learn about the critical importance of good animal welfare and build the scientific case for better treatment of all animals.  The WSPA disaster relief program helps animals after they have gone through the same traumatic effects that we suffer after a flood, drought, and other emergency situations.  Oftentimes animals are the forgotten survivors, but WSPA is working to change that.  They provide food and water for the animals, help to return them to their owners, and provide vaccinations programs after the fact.  The only thing that’s better than sinking your teeth into a juicy steak or burger is entering a burger-eating contest that supports The Children’s Tumor Foundation.  This past May Kildare’s Irish Pub in Pennsylvania made the dreams of many ravished college kids.  CTF won’t stop till they reach their goal of curing neurofibromatosis (NF).  They are busy conducting ground-breaking research to treat and cure NF, support those who are diagnosed with NF as well as their families, and educate the public about NF.  I certainly didn’t know what NF was until this little handy-dandy blog opened my eyes.  Thank goodness for the internet.

World Society for the Protection of Animals Donation

The Children’s Tumor Foundation Donation

So here’s to you beef!  You are in my pasta, my Mexican Mondays, my cookouts, my sandwiches, and occasionally on my salads.  Some people can live without you, but don’t worry I never would.  You’re just too dang delicious.  Thank you for being what’s for dinner…and lunch…and on special occasions, breakfast!

Breakfast of champions

Week 31-To Meet List, Day 3-Ellen & Portia

Even though I would settle for meeting half of this couple, I’m pretty sure they’re a package deal.  I love watching Ellen in the mornings.  She’s such a positive influence on the rest of my day.  I know how incredibly corny that probably sounded but it’s true.  I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with people and things that bring joy into your world.  Life is so short and it seems so fruitless to focus on the things that bring you down.  Sure, life is life and there will be bad days but Ellen and Portia are great examples the good things that happen when you never stop pursuing your passions.  If you need a little sunshine in your life use that space on your DVR to record Ellen.  You won’t be sorry.

Ellen monkeying around

Ellen and Portia are both huge, huge, huge supporters of animal rights and support several charities that work to end cruelty against animals.  A couple of weeks ago we talked about the big role they play in giving back to The Gentle Barn, but they don’t stop there my friends.  Another one of Ellen’s favorite animal related non-profits is Animal Tracks, Inc.  ATI works to give rare and exotic animals a new place to live when they can’t be returned to their natural habitat.  These animals aren’t just laying around all day eating fruit either.  They are educating the public about their specific species, and what they can do to conserve wildlife around the globe.  Their education super stars range from Pebbles the kookaburra to Erma the Burmese python.  ATI also has a very hands-on approach to teaching and learning.  There are no spectators in their presentations, only participants.  For over twenty years they have made learning what it should be; FUN!  And if anyone knows how to have some fun it’s my girl Ellen.  Another passion that Ellen and Portia share is helping children.  Project Zambi was started by the toy giant Hasboro (think Mr. Potato Head, NERF, and Monopoly) to help support programs that help children who have been orphaned by the AIDS virus in Africa.  Nearly 15 million children under the age of 17 have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS.  This event alone is traumatizing enough but it also puts these children at risk for a declined standard of living.  PZ helps financially support programs for these children, but they also encourage children here in America and other countries across the world to get involved with this fight.  It means so much to these orphaned children to know that they have friends who care about them, no matter how far away they may be.  If kids learn the joy of giving back early, they are much more likely to be life-long givers like Ellen and Portia.

Animal Tracks Inc. Donation

Project Zambi Donation

So here’s to you Ellen and Portia!  You’re not afraid to be who you truly are, and people adore you for that.  Luckily for the world, who you are is helping to make the people around you and better.  Your spirit is contagious and your laughter could bring a smile to anyone’s face.  Your genuineness is palpable, even through the TV, and I’m so thankful that you’ve opened your hearts and lives to us all. 

Week 22-California!, Day 6-San Diego Zoo


Guess what I got to see today?  No, not lions and tigers and bears.  More like baby giraffes, polar bears, and PANDAS!!!  This was my very first trip to the San Diego Zoo and my very first time ever seeing pandas in my entire life.  Both were well worth the wait.  K and I ventured out on this beautiful Monday morning to soak up some sun, get a little exercise, and see some fun animals.  Why does going back to the zoo as an adult always make you feel like a little kid again?  Being able to be that close to gorillas, fossas, and koala bears will never get old to me.  Thankfully places like the San Diego Zoo thrive off of donations from people like you and me and help us teach us to be young all over again.

There are so many great things about the San Diego Zoo that it’s hard to put into words how great it is.  I could go on and on about all the animals we saw today, but I’d rather tell you about all the really cool options you have to give back to the SD Zoo.  You can adopt an animals like a giant panda, polar bear, african elephant, or a cheetah.  You also have the option to fund new exhibits for the animals.  Seriously how cool would it be to walk into an exhibit an know that you are a part of building it.  If you live in the SD area you have the option of becoming a member of zoo, and being able to go whenever yo want.  SDZ also puts on these really great events like Walk on the Wild Side and Celebration for Critters which lets you eat, drink and be merry for a great cause!  I mean we all gotta eat at least a couple of times a day so helping animals out when we do is a win, win.  Giving back to a zoo is so important because it is really what keeps them operating from day to day.  So pick your favorite way and give to your little heart’s desire!

San Diego Zoo Donation

So here’s to you San Diego Zoo! You welcomed us with open arms to your beautiful grounds and made us feel right at home. The animals that live in you are unique and gorgeous beyond words. Thank you for helping us remember that at one time or another we all wanted to be a veterinarian when we grew up.

Week 21-Go Green Week, Day 7-Yo Body

If it’s important for us to green our homes then it must be doubly or triply important to green our own bodies.  They are the one thing that we each have total control over day in and day out.  You’ve always heard people say you are what you eat, or you’ll get out of your body what you put into it, so why not make it green?  No, I’m not telling you to go on a diet of broccoli, asparagus, and green tea.  What I am telling you to do is think about what you put in and on your body.  I’m so thankful that we have the choice to be green without sacrificing being beautiful.

Atta girl Kate!

Luckily there are people like Kate Hudson, yes the famous actress, that feels the same way.  She teamed up with stylist David Babaii to create these awesome natural, cruelty-free, environmentally free hair products that benefit WildAid.  Kate and David realized that looking good feels fabulous and doing good feels even better, so they wanted to find a way to combine the two.  WA is a charity that is dedicated to end illegal wildlife trade during our lifetimes by both educating the public and providing protection for marine wildlife.  WA has also garnered the attention of other celebrities like Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, and Harrison Ford for their public service announcements that reach millions.  So before you go pick up your next bottle of shampoo or mousse from Wal-Mart think about all those cute cuddly baby animals you can save AND look awesome.  As a woman one of the biggest parts of our beauty is our hair, just ask any man.  The only thing more beautiful than long, flowing hair is cutting it all off for Locks of Love.  LOL is giving self-confidence and normalcy back to children who are suffering from hair loss by making high quality hair prosthetics from the generously donated ponytails they receive.  Started back in 1997 LOL has been providing hair pieces to underprivileged children who are under the age of 21.  Hair is one of those things most of us take for granted on a daily basis.  Just try to imagine reaching to pull your hair back into a ponytail and finding nothing there.  David Babaii said it best, “It’s beautiful to be good.”

WildAid Donation or Buy some DB4 WildAid hair products!

Locks of Love Donation or Donate your hair!

So here’s to yo body!  Be sure you treat it good cause it’s the only one you got.  You are what keeps all our internal organs inside and helps us be awesome at sports, well some of us.  Thanks for helping us walk upright and be at the top of the evolutionary food chain.  It’s not easy being green, but somebody’s gotta do it.   

Week 17-Music, Day 6-Music Videos

Yea I do!

Music videos may seem so 1990’s to you, but let me be the first to let you know, they are coming back in a major way.  Even better, they are coming back for great causes.  I mean seriously who didn’t love watching cutie Carson Daly on MTV’s Total Request Live?  He was the video jockey, and had everyone asking, “Have you seen the video for that song?”.  Videos bring the songs we love to life and help us put faces with the names of new artists.  If music and charity go together like peas and carrots that makes music videos the butter on top.  A little slice of heaven that makes the dish of donation perfect.

H to the IZZO otherwise known as Jay-Z made a video of a different kind to support UNICEF.  Instead of having sexy girls with minimal clothing fogging up the television screen, the video chronicles his journey through developing countries where he met with young people who didn’t have access to clean water.  There are over 2 million children who die unnecessarily due to unsafe water and poor sanitation.  In “Water for Life” he also walked some of the routes with the kids who fetch clean water for their families every day.  Water is such a basic need that we, myself majorly included, take for granted multiple times a day.  It’s one of those causes that will never get enough attention or support.  It’s that important.  Nowadays you can’t think of music videos without the band OK Go popping into your head.  Their video White Knuckles is a great example of them flexing their creative muscles.  The video is full of lucky pups who were rescued by loving families, and OK Go donates the proceeds from the sale of their single to the ASPCA.  As far as I’m concerned, rescuing innocent animals that have been abandoned or born in shelters ranks right up there with providing clean water to children.  We are the voice for the cuddly, innocent, dogs and cats that aren’t able to speak up for themselves.  So whenever you get a chance just add rescue an adorable animal and provide clean water for the world to the top of your to-do list.  No biggie.

Go ahead. Write it at the top...

UNICEF Donation

ASPCA Donation (or go adopt an animal!)

So here’s to you music videos!  You taught us the proper way to get down to our favorite songs on the radio.  You were the reason thousands of people were glued to their TVs at 4 o’clock every day when the MTV video countdown began.  You give artists the creative license to make the vision in their head come to life, and share it with the world.  You have gone through a transformation since your inception, and now you are teaching people to give back instead of getting down.  In the 90’s people may have wanted their MTV, but now they want their GBTV (give back TV).

Week 14-Food Shows, Day 4-Ace of Cakes

I know what there are too many baking shows on TV to count these days but, Ace of Cakes paved the way for them all.  Sadly, the original bake-outrageous-cakes-for-various-real-and-made-up-occasions was canceled just this past month after ten fun loving seasons.  My friend Krap and I have discussed this several times and we are in total agreement that AOC was not just the first baking show, but was also way better than the competition.  Duff knows how to decorate a great cake, laugh at his own jokes, and give back to his community.  I love watching AOC and I’m thankful for the ten great seasons we got to share together.

That's one BIG cupcake!

Duff and company have been several really awesome charity based cakes but there are a couple that stand out.  Duff attempted to make the world’s largest cupcake back in 2008 to support the Great American Bake Sale.  He succeed but was later stripped of his title because he make the cupcake in two parts, which apparently is a no no.  He still helped to raise $10,000 dollars for Share Our Strength‘s GABS.  SOS uses innovative and fun programs like the GABS to get people across the nation involved in ending childhood hunger.  Do your coworkers love the chocolate chip cookies you bake from your grandmother’s recipe?  The next time you make them, just ask them to donate a dollar towards SOS.  A single benjamin can provide up to ten healthy meals for kids in need.  Ten for one sounds like a good deal to me.

Sugary flamingos for the zoo

Charm City Cakes has also made multiple cakes for The Maryland Zoo‘s annual Zoomerang fund-raising gala.  They are also making the third birthday cake for Samson, the elephant, again this year on the 19th of this month.  The zoo was originally named The Baltimore Zoo (the name was changed in 2004) and is the third oldest in the nation founded on April 7, 1876.  They work to educated and inspire visitors to support conservation of animals in their own backyards and those in more exotic locations.  Who doesn’t love a fuzzy face?

The Great American Bake Sale Donation

The Maryland Zoo Donation

So here’s to you Ace of Cakes!  You’ve shown us how to make eggs, flour, and sugar look like flamingos, crayon boxes, and Yoda.  You gave us ten great seasons of laughter, creativity, and clipboards full of orders to fill.  You reminded us how to have some fun and not take ourselves or our cakes so seriously.  And isn’t having a little fun what giving back in really about?  It sure feels a lot better to give away your time or money when you’re smiling! 🙂

Week 12-Places I’ve lived, Day 5-Liberty,NC

I can still remember the very first time we drove the 13 miles from our cozy, comfortable house in a very nice golf course community to the house in Liberty.  It was a renovated carpet and tile store and it lacked all the bells and whistles that I had grown accustomed to.  Plus it was 13 miles further from all of my high school friends, which in tenth grade really seems like 130 miles.  I may have not liked it then, but I’m definitely thankful for it now.  The house, the huge garden, and all the charm of the little town have all grown on me over the years.  Ironically, moving to Liberty, gave me just that.

Good 'ole Liberty

The actual town of Liberty may be small but there are some pretty big charities right around the corner.  The NC Zoo is only twenty miles away in Asheboro.  The zoo is supported by the non-profit, NC Zoo Society, which helps to raise funds through membership programs, annual planned-giving campaigns, and many other programs.  Formed in 1968 the NCZS works to conserve wildlife and their habitats across the globe, and help educate and inspire the public about the nature that surrounds them.  You can even support the society by adopting a ball python, chimp, elephant, or a puffin.  Of course by adopting you don’t get to take the animals home, but you do get exclusive photos of your animal and zookeeper’s notes.  You could be on the next big reality series, Zoo Moms 2.

Next stop, Victory Junction!

Victory Junction provides life changing experiences for children with chronic illnesses and other serious conditions.  VJ was built in honor of NASCAR driver Adam Petty and has served over 11,000 children since it’s opening in 2004.  VJ camp is on 84 acres in Randleman, NC which is only about 24 miles from Liberty.  Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, and Darius Rucker are just a few of the celebrities that support VJ and don’t mind saying so.  And Kansas City better watch out cause VJ is rolling in!

NC Zoo Society Donation or Adopt a fuzzy wild child!

Victory Junction Donation

So here’s to you Liberty!  I wasn’t so sure about you at first but you have turned out to be a city of refuge for me.  A place where I can go to recharge my batteries, take a nap, swing outside in the cool breeze, and always have a good home cooked meal.  You are a place where people wave to each other, know each other by name, and love giving back to their community as much as they love the community itself.

Week 2-People, Day 5-Wildlife Conservation Society

This summer I had the once in a lifetime, or twice for some people, opportunity to be a Teaching Fellow at the Bronx Zoo.  Even though the pay was not that great, and I was unable to take any type of summer vacation, I got to work with some really great people that will be my friends for life.  We were a motley crew for sure but we had a dynamic that kept us and the kids we taught laughing.  Our little holiday reunion last night in NYC reminded me how thankful I am for them, and the organization that brought us together for 11 weeks.

If it wasn’t for the Wildlife Conservation Society I would have never met all my fellow Fellows or had the great experience of teaching young minds about wildlife conservation.  This non-profit organization has been around for 115 years and helps supports over 500 conservation projects in 60 different countries, runs five different zoos/aquarium, and teaching millions of people each year about conservation.  Yea, they’re kind of a big deal.  Can you imagine a world without lions, or tigers, or bears? Oh my! By supporting the WCS you ensure that your kids, and their kids, and hopefully their kid’s kids will know and love wildlife.  You don’t even have to give any money to make a difference.  Below is a link where you can write your senator and urge them to support the Global Conservation Act of 2010.  I’m gonna write my senator right after I finish this blog!

Donate to Wildlife Conservation Society

Save the tigers!  Write your senator about the Global Conservation Act of 2010

So here’s to you Wildlife Conservation Society!  You help save tiger’s habits, save western lowland gorillas, and protect the lemurs in Madagascar.  Baba Dioum said it best, “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”