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On June 12th, we are celebrating the three year anniversary of Animal Community Talks (ACT) with an event that encompasses all the core values of our program - education, fun, and collaboration.

 

Three years ago, ACT was just an idea in my mind that developed after spending a decade working and volunteering with local animal organizations. Although I’ve always been passionate about education, the need for this type of program became most apparent while I was working for Synergy Behavior Solutions, a local animal behavior practice.

I saw three major issues that were impacting the welfare of animals and their advocates in our community:

  • animal industries were not sharing information with each other,

  • individuals and organizations weren’t meeting regularly to collaborate,

  • quality education was inaccessible to many.

Launching ACT was a slow process because I lacked confidence and resources. With the encouragement and generosity of those around me, I held our first event on Sunday, June 23rd of 2013. The event was at the old Healthy Pets NW Multnomah Village location, put on with borrowed chairs, tables, projector, and screen. Our presenters - both of whom I met through my work at Synergy Behavior - were Dr. Christine Fletcher, who spoke about vaccines, and Gretchen Icenogle, who spoke on Dog Reactivity. I was nervous and the almost 15 attendees all but filled our available seating, but the event was a success! My original plan was to focus the program for the animal shelter community, but it quickly became clear that there was a wider audience interested in joining.

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Our first event in June of 2013. 

Since that first event, we’ve organized 42 more talks with 37 total presenters. We’ve had a total attendance of almost 600. In May of 2016, we became an official 501(c)3 organization too!

We’ve made a lot of improvements to our infrastructure during this time. We have:

  • Formed a Board of Directors with the invaluable Geoff Peterson and Jennifer Raney

  • Started an official newsletter

  • Created a professional website

  • Moved to a space with a capacity of 50

  • Started scheduling events months in advance

  • Been able to provide Continuing Education credit for some presentations

I remember the pride I felt in the program the first time someone came up to me at an event and asked if I was involved in this program...ACT had developed its own identity outside its creators.

But we still have a lot to do.

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Board Members Jennifer, Daniela and Geoff

As a whole, the animal field is overburdened and underfunded, and the lifelong commitment to education needed for a quality standard of care can be seen by many as an unattainable luxury. Although our program is a small drop in the bucket towards changing this culture, we work hard to be accessible by making events free, scheduling events on weekends, and putting many of our videos online for those who cannot attend in-person. In the future, we hope to increase our accessibility by creating shorter educational videos, offering webinars, adding small discussion group events, increasing the quality of our media equipment, and exploring alternate event times.

Another challenge is simply promoting our events and program to the public. It is difficult to stand out in a world where people are constantly busy and bombarded with stimuli.

Our June 12th celebration is meaningful both to our organization and to me personally. As an organization, we’re celebrating the community’s enduring support for our mission of creating a well-informed, collaborative animal care community through education. As an individual, I am celebrating the growth, healing, confidence, and friendships that building this program have brought me. Many of my previous challenges ended up being the building blocks for this program. It is humbling how many have joined to support this vision.

I invite you to join us for this celebration of ACT and our community. For more information, click here.

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A door prize we'd love to award you at our anniversary event - thanks to Powell Veterinary Center!