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Best Friends 4-H Club

Volunteer Leaders/ Team Instructors

Motto: "If the map and the terrain do not agree, believe the terrain." -- Charles W. Chaillet, Jr.



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In this section: What Is A Team Instructor   *   Best Friends Leaders' Projects   *   Team Instructor Policy

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What is a Team Instructor?

       Without our Best Friends 4-H Club Leaders/ Team Instructors, there would not be a Nontraditional summer dog project. They are the very background of our program, each working with one Nontraditional 4-H'er and a Team Canine (which may be the 4-H'er's dog, the Team Instructor's dog, or a dog belonging to another member of the club).

       What is a Team Instructor? To put it simply, a Team Instructor is a 4-H volunteer leader who acts as a personal dog trainer for a Nontraditional 4-H'er. What is a Nontraditional 4-H'er? A Nontraditional 4-H'er is a person who has a life disability (challenge, handicap, special needs... call it what you like, the definition remains the same) and cannot meet the standards of canine handling set by the American Kennel Club without the aid of a Team Instructor.

       However, the duties of a Team Instructor are not that simple. It takes a steadfast and committed person to teach the one-on-one canine class exercises to a person who:

  • May or may not have communication skills.

  • May or may not fully comprehend the concepts of canine training.

  • May have physical mountains to climb just to hold a leash.

  • May have tactile issues regarding touching the dog or you with praise and respect.

  • May not be fully cognitive.

       Then there are the Team Instructor's own personal studies in preparing the material for teaching his or her assigned non-traditional 4-H'er. The Team Instructor must be prepared in the studies of:

  • The diagnosis of his or her assigned non-traditional 4-H'er.

  • The good manner behavior skills that will be accepted from both the non-traditional 4-H'er and the canine alike.

  • The canine tools necessary for each class subject taught. (Canine Obedience, Agility, Rally, Junior Showmanship, Canine Safety and Ownership Responsibility and Canine Anatomy).

  • The canine training techniques and how to adapt those same techniques to meet his or her assigned non-traditional 4-H'er's needs in each class subject.

  • Recognizing stress symptoms in both the non-traditional 4-H'er and the canine.

  • Understanding the canine training goals of the dog competitions the team will enter: the Berrien County Youth Fair's Nontraditional Canine Competitions in obedience, rally, agility and costume, and an AKC Canine Good Citizenship Test.

       Above all, a Team Instructor must be willing to donate his or her TIME to the Nontraditional 4-H'er's and Team Canine at the dog project classes -- two - three hours for eight - nine Monday evenings in June, July, and August, one day to the Nontraditional Canine Competitions at the Berrien County Youth Fair, and an hour or so if needed at the AKC Canine Good Citizenship Test.

        This may sound daunting, but Best Friends holds a Team Instructor training class on the first Monday in May, and Club Coordinators are on hand evey step of the way to provide guidance and support when needed.

        If you are interested in becoming a 4-H Team Instructor for Best Friends 4-H Club's summer dog project, please also read our Team Instructor Policy carefully, then contact Linda Shannon-Chaillet. She'll answer any further questions you might have, then guide you through the process of registering both as a 4-H Leader (required for liability purposes) and as a Team Instructor for Best Friends 4-H!


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Best Friends 4-H Leaders' Projects

       Throughout the year, Best Friends 4-H Club leaders and members participate in a number of special projects. 4-H'ers are also welcome to accompany leaders in these projects, including (but not limited to):

  • Team Instructor Classes - Team Instructor's Class will be scheduled to assist the new Team Instructor in understanding the dog training classes being taught during our dog training classes project.

  • Canine Therapy in Area Schools by invitation - During the months of September through April, Best Friends 4-H Leaders and their temperament tested canines enter classrooms to use the dogs as a therapy tool.

  • Canine Therapy Seminar in Education at Andrews University - Throughout the year, Best Friends 4-H Club Leaders are invited into the Educational Department to teach a seminar on the benefits of Canine Therapy in the classroom. We bring in our canines as a visual aid and demonstrate the practicality of using a canine as a therapy tool for children and adults alike in the education system.

  • Canine Therapy Seminar in Nursing at Andrews University - Throughout the year, Best Friends 4-H Club Leaders are invited into the Nursing Department to teach a seminar on the benefits of Canine Therapy in the medical world. We bring in our canines as a visual aid and demonstrate the practicality of using a canine as a therapy tool for children and adults alike in the education system.

  • Teaching Canine Safety at Local Schools - Every so often, Best Friends 4-H Leaders are invited into a school to educate the students on Canine Safety and Responsibility. We bring in the dogs to demonstrate:

    • How to ask permission to pet a dog.
    • How to approach a dog safely
    • What to do if you see a strange dog and it approaches you.
  • "BOOK HOUNDS" at Berrien County Libraries -- by invitationi, Best Friend's 4-H Leaders bring his or her canine into the library and have a child read to their canine in 20 minute sessions. Time frame for Book Hounds is 60 minutes.

  • "Thanks for Giving" Thanksgiving dinner basket project

  • Collecting pet food, treats, toys, litter, etc. for donation to Berrien County Animal Control (at our annual Christmas party meeting)


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4-H four leaf clover logo4-H Team Instructor's Pledge:

I pledge my HEAD by giving my assigned 4-H'er the dog training concept tools I have and to help him or her understand canine training theories as clearly as possible.

I pledge my HEART to encourage and support my assigned 4-H'er no matter whether he or she has successes or disappointments in canine therapy and dog competition training.

I pledge my HANDS in assisting my assigned 4-H'er to learn life lessons and life skills through 4-H's Canine Therapy and Dog Competition Training.

I pledge my HEALTH by keeping myself and my own canine strong and well for a better world through 4-H.

 

"Hands and Paws together always in friendship and teamwork." -- L.M. Shannon-Chaillet

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"Ahat is a Team Instructor?" article © Copyright 2013 by L. M. Shannon Chaillet

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