Pet Care Trust to American Federation of Aviculture Brings Positive Results
Benny Gallaway, Ph.D., Education Committee Chair of the AFA, reports that the Level I curriculum has been approved for continuing education credits for veterinarians and veterinary technicians, and expects the Level II course to receive the same designation. The courses are designed for online study for anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of aviculture. Gallaway says that the Level I course has been completed by many interested laypersons, students and pet owners with extremely positive feedback.
He explains that the AFA courses occupy a unique niche that has not previously been filled. Developing the curriculum is a time consuming and expensive project that begins with formulating of the curriculum outline, then researching each topic through both academic and scientific methods, and calling on the expertise of top aviculturists, many of whom are members of the AFA. Once a draft of the content has been put together, the next major piece of the project is illustrating the course, which is crucial to making the material understandable. What truly distinguishes the AFA curriculum, however, is the scientific peer review process that ensures the course content is as accurate as possible. Gallaway says, “If you go looking for information or ‘how to’ on birds, it’s hard to find it in one place that you can depend upon.” He says that although you may find information, the accuracy is questionable. “That’s why we go to a great deal of trouble, with scientific peer review, et cetera, to make sure it’s as correct as possible. We think it’s a valuable service.”
Gallaway feels strongly that the project would have taken at least five years to complete without the support of the Pet Care Trust. With the grant from the Pet Care Trust and the subsequent matching grant received from the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center of Texas A&M University, Gallaway hopes to have the Level II curriculum completed by the end of the year. “We could have done it, but it would have taken forever,” he explains. Since the project enlists the services of authors, the illustrator, technical support personnel and peer review experts, it involves substantial time and expense. “The grant just made it possible…We really appreciate it,” Gallaway declares.
The grant will positively affect the AFA itself, according to Gallaway. “I think that this will cause the organization to grow tremendously,” he says. “It is in a state of transition from kind of a small breeders-only group to a more diverse and educational source, so it’s changing in character to more closely fit its charter.” Gallaway predicts that the breadth of information presented in the curriculums and its accessibility to any interested bird lover will boost the AFA’s membership. He also feels that the new curriculum will have a wide-reaching positive impact on those who will truly benefit the most from the education. “The people who really need to know about birds are the people who have a pet bird, who buy it on a whim and don’t have a clue that they’re going to have it for the next 30 to 50 years and need to know more about that bird.”
The Pet Care Trust is a national pet care education charity founded in 1997 that exists to educate the public in all aspects of responsible pet ownership, by conducting ad hoc research and advocating the benefits of pet ownership, as well as promoting high standards of education and training across the pet care business community. The Trust awards grants annually.