When she became a graduate student at Colorado State University, Ellie Beniston remembered going to “De-Stress with Dogs” events in years past as an undergrad. So when she saw a job opportunity to work as HABIC’s office coordinator, she immediately responded.
“I was so excited to work with HABIC. Those memories of visiting with the HABIC human-animal teams had stayed with me,” she said. “I had always felt immediately uplifted.”
Beniston worked in the HABIC office while completing her Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences with a specialization in assisted reproductive technology.
During her time with HABIC, Beniston saw just how far the impact of the human-animal bond can reach. “Being a part of HABIC’s mission has been immensely rewarding. I hope to continue supporting HABIC in the future,” she said.
Ellie Beniston is one of three CSU students that spent the past academic year contributing, either as employee, intern, or research assistant, to the Human-Animal Bond in Colorado center in the School of Social Work.
“I fell in love with HABIC the moment I found it!” said Kate Gloeckner, who served as a graduate research assistant. “I’ve always had a passion for animals and training, but HABIC allowed me to explore a whole new area of assistance animals.”
Gloeckner also contributed to HABIC’s outreach communications using marketing skills learned in her Professional Science Master’s in Zoo, Aquarium and Animal Shelter Management degree program.
Bailey Powell, a senior in Biology, recognized the importance of the people of HABIC. “It’s such a compassionate, caring, and unique community. I enjoyed meeting the wonderful people that allow HABIC to be so successful.”
Powell worked with HABIC as an intern and student researcher. Her capstone project focused on the Animal-Assisted Intervention programs of HABIC and its volunteer teams. Her time with HABIC increased her understanding of the positive impacts of animal-assisted interventions. “In graduate school, I will be conducting a survey-based study for the changes in physical and mental health of clients with Animal-Assisted Activities and Animal-Assisted Therapies,” said Powell.
As a Social Work senior, Lily Poulter is especially tuned into benefits for the human side of the human-animal bond. “I believe animals have a way of connecting us and bringing people from all walks of life together. Animals give unconditional love, and I think that is something humans can learn from them.”
“I learned how valuable animals are to human beings, but also how much work and incredible people it takes to run a nonprofit organization,” said Poulter. “I now know more about how to find funding, how to reach out to my community, and how to write a grant.”
With so much learned over the past year, it’s easy to forget this is just the beginning for these young women.
After graduation, Ellie Beniston is moving to Tennessee to complete an embryology internship at an in vitro fertilization lab. Although she won’t be involved with animals professionally, she hopes to be part of a volunteer team with a therapy animal one day.
Kate Gloekner is on the lookout for a job that will combine her experience with animal behavior and training with her new degree qualifications in animal organization management.
Bailey Powell will continue her education at Colorado State University in the Professional Science Master’s Program in Zoo, Aquarium, and Shelter Management.
Lily Poulter will begin a dual-degree masters program in Social Work and Public Health in June at the University of Denver. During the first year of the program she will be working towards certification in animal-assisted therapy, and in the second year she will study at the CU Anschutz campus.
About Human-Animal Bond in Colorado
Founded in 1993, Human-Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC) is a center in the School of Social Work, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. HABIC’S mission is to improve the quality of life for people of all ages through the therapeutic use of companion animals, with particular focus in the areas of community outreach, teaching, and research.