By: Steven Appelbaum, ABC President & CEO
Hello everyone, and welcome to this newsletter’s edition of What’s Waggin.
So, what is going on?
Well, on a personal note, this year, my wife and I will attend two weddings and the birth of our first grandchild. A girl is due in September. That’s been on my mind quite a bit, and while I don’t often share personal things, this one is exciting and noteworthy enough to share. The weddings are fun, although perspective is such an interesting thing. When I was my kids’ age, I thought of myself as a mature adult with 10+ years of adult experience under my belt. Looking at the early 30s through the prism of twice those years, I marvel at how young they are.
Anyway, enough about me, let’s talk about ABC.
All programs are doing well. We are finishing a revamp of our Veterinary Assistant Program, having completed revisions on our Dog Trainer Program earlier this year. All programs are works in progress as information changes over time.
Enrollments are steady, with the Zookeeper Assistant Program showing exceptional gains this year. It doesn’t surprise me that this program is so popular.
We get a lot of feedback from students and graduates about our programs. With 35,000+ alumni and 3,000-4,000 students in our programs at any given time, the fact that we get feedback on our courses should be a surprise to none.
One thing that surprised me is how many people tell us about the emotional and mental health benefits they gain from our programs.
Since Covid, we have all heard about an increase in people reporting feelings of isolation and dysconnectivity. While working remotely has benefited many, workers don’t have the same opportunities for in-person interaction in office working environments. While this is not a sociological report and commentary, the 24-hour news cycle, social media, economic stress, and the ability for people to isolate and remain in their bubbles have increased anxiety and depression. I understand complex challenges like those mentioned above do not have simple solutions. I also know numerous ABC students and graduates have reported tangible emotional health benefits from taking our programs.
For example, when we created our Aquatics Maintenance Program, I assumed people interested in designing, building, and maintaining fresh and saltwater aquariums, primarily hobbyists but also people looking to start their own businesses, would take this program.
There is an interesting correlation to emotional health with this program. Some people feel as though the world is out of control. So much around us is beyond our ability to influence, and at times many things we can’t control feel like they can negatively impact us. This can be anything from Covid to feeling isolated, disconnected, etc. About 30% of the students who take this program reported a sense of calm and additional confidence.
Frankly, when I first heard this, my reaction was; really? How would keeping fish and designing aquariums help? The answer was surprising. For some folks, the ability to create beautiful environments, control and regulate how those miniature worlds function, help living animals thrive in this environment and assist like-minded people with this passion is a blessing to them. It gives some students a sense of control, which is lacking in other parts of their lives. It’s also meditative for some. Plus, anyone who can keep a goldfish alive for more than six weeks is magical in my eyes.
Anyway, I have gone on long enough, and thanks to all who have read this far. I look forward to sharing more with you again in our next edition!