For Rachael Dunaway, Rome High School’s Future Farmers of America advisor and agriculture education teacher at the school’s College and Career Academy (CCA), a visit to Rome and Floyd County’s P.A.W.S. (Public Animal Welfare Services) is a welcomed treat.

Dunaway and several of her students gave much needed back scratches and hugs to animals waiting to be adopted and reinforced all they have been learning in class. “It is a part of our chapter’s program activities to give back to the community,” Dunaway explained. “So, the students get to decide where they would like to complete their volunteer hours. They can choose a local soup kitchen or food pantries, but they all asked if they could spend their time at P.A.W.S. Our officer team coordinates with P.A.W.S. and set dates where we can come out and help. Today, we have a few of our officers and chapter members here socializing with the animals.”

From the wagging tails and hopeful looks shown by the animals, it does not take long to see the joy both students and the center’s temporary residents share. However, there is more to this outing than just snuggles and face licks.

“Most of these animals have been neglected and some of them are strays, so it is great to give them a healthy dose of human interaction,” Dunaway said. “When they do find a forever home, it is much easier for the transition to happen if we continue to offer them positive attention. Our kids get hands-on experience on how to properly handle the animals and they can pick up on signs animals often give that communicate their feelings. Sometimes, we can tell when an animal is not feeling well because of how they interact with us. The students learn to think critically, and think on their feet, and respond appropriately.”

Dunaway said that her classroom focuses on vet science, so this activity goes hand-in-hand with what they are studying. She also brings animals to the CCA where the students work to care for them. Her goal is to better prepare Wolves who are interested in turning her lessons into a career and reach the next level of study prepared.

“I am so proud of our students, and what I love about our FFA chapter at Rome is that they are all in. Sometimes, they get nervous, but they just go for it,” she said with a smile. “They dive in, and they give it their best effort. I appreciate that they love working and that they are willing to get dirty with our animals.”

Go Wolves!!!