Teachers, you can easily get funds to put a pet in your classroom this year!
Beginning Aug. 1, educators in the U.S. and Canada may apply for the Pets in the Classroom grant for the 2019-2020 school year, which has a very simple process and guidelines. The grant allows you to get a pet for your classroom from a partner chain retailer or receive up to $125 for the purchase of one elsewhere.
Teachers may apply for this grant every year, too!
“These grants are intended to support pets or aquariums in the classroom for the purposes of teaching children to bond with and care for their pets responsibly,” the grant application page says.
Another awesome thing about Pets in the Classroom? Those who have already been awarded money may qualify for the $50 sustaining grant each year after the initial pet purchase to help maintain their pet.
If you’re interested in applying, you must teach Pre-K through 9th grade at a public or private school, and the school must be in the United States or in Canada.
Grades 10-12 and home-based education centers such as daycares or homeschooling families do not qualify at this time.
As an educator applying for this grant, you will need to carefully select which type of pet is best suited for your students and the classroom environment. For example, will you have students with allergies to any specific animals?
The folks giving away this money take into consideration the school district rules regarding animals and will consider the type of pet requested when determining who gets one.
Consider these things prior to applying so the process moves quickly.
Pets in the Classroom encourages teachers to include students in voting on which type of pet to get. Note that small mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and arachnids are eligible; insects, worms, and livestock (such as chickens) are not.
“Involving students in the decision-making process (having them research and vote on the animal) is beneficial … It’s a great team-building project and helps foster a sense of ownership,” Pets in the Classroom says.
Educators applying to the grants will have a couple of options on how to move forward with purchasing an animal. You can choose a store grant in which you obtain a pet from one of six participating retailers (including Petco, Petsmart, Pet Supplies Plus and Petland; see their rules). Alternatively, you can apply for a rebate grant if you prefer to buy elsewhere, of $75 for a small animal and $125 for a fish, reptile or amphibian.
Teachers who have never had a pet in their classroom should consider beginner-level pets such as fish or hamsters/gerbils. They are easier to care for and many educators will set up schedules with parents willing to allow their child to bring the class pet home for care on weekends and holiday breaks.
More care is required for guinea pigs, snakes or pet birds such as parakeets. A rabbit would be one of the more difficult animals to keep in a classroom, so be sure to have experience with one before applying for that type of pet.
Pets in the Classroom offers guidance for selecting the right animal for you. It also offers how to handle the unfortunate event of a pet dying and leading your students through that grief process.
Pets in the Classroom also has information on what pets may be illegal in your state.
Of course, the pet selection process should be unique and enjoyable for you and your students. Have fun!