Learn­ing about an­i­mals who went to war

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Leah McDon­ald lm­c­don­ald@onei­dadis­patch.com @Onei­daDis­patch on Twit­ter

ONEIDA, N.Y. » Gath­ered on the front lawn of the Oneida Pub­lic Li­brary on Satur­day was an un­usual sight -- three horses and a don­key qui­etly eat­ing grass while chil­dren learned that not only peo­ple go to war.

“I wanted to do some­thing with chil­dren” about the 100th an­niver­sary of the United States en­ter­ing WorldWar I, said Youth Ser­vices Co­or­di­na­tor Me­ganGil­lan­der. “We were try­ing to think of a way to in­clude chil­dren in the con­ver­sa­tion.”

To that end, the li­brary set­tled on dis­cussing an­i­mals who went to war, Gil­lan­der said. They found Jet Wil­liams, 14, and Trevor Rounds, 11, through Cor­nell Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion’s 4-H pro­gram, and in­vited them to bring their horses Sassy, Jake, and Buck, as well as don­key Ash­ley, to give kids a hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It’s a good ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Wil­liams. She’s been rais­ing horses since she was a child, and has a par­tic­u­larly strong bond with Sassy.

Horses are de­pend­able, strong and in­cred­i­bly in­tel­li­gent, the two ex­plained, which­made them ideal for help­ing trans­port heavy mu­ni­tions or get sol­diers from place to place. Their role has largely dis­ap­peared on the bat­tle­field be­cause of the time and­money it takes to train and care for them, how­ever.

For Wil­liams, rais­ing horses is dif­fi­cult but also re­ward­ing.

“You can en­joy it, but at the same time you have to work for it,” she said. “They’re re­ally smart, so some­times you have to bat­tle them, and other times they work with you.”

Trevor agreed, not­ing how his horse, Jake, can be mean, but they still click with one an­other.

“I think it’s neat that we had all the an­i­mals come in,” said Alyeska Gil­lan­der, 9. “I think it’s nice that we don’t just hear about them, we get to see the­mand touch them. I love how they try mak­ing learn­ing fun for kids.”

“I learned what they do in the war,” added Javarin Daniels, 8.

“Hav­ing the an­i­mals was a great thing, be­cause it makes it more real,” Gil- lan­der said.

Alyeska, Javarin and Ella Ridge­way, 7, were three of sev­eral chil­dren who took part in Satur­day’s event. After spend­ing time with the horses out­side, they gath­ered in the chil­dren’s room in the li­brary to learn the real-life story of Win­nie the Pooh, a bear cub adopt­edby Cana­dian vet­eri­nar­ian and sol­dier Harry Cole­burn. They also learned about other an­i­mals that have helped hu­man sol­diers in war, in­clud­ing dogs, pi­geons and -- to the sur­prise of many -- slugs. Sol­diers would bring them into the trenches dur­ing WWI be­cause they could de­tect mus­tard gas early enough that sol­diers were able to get their gas masks on.

Ella, Alyeska and Javarin said they all knowvet­er­ans, in­clud­ing sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers, and each felt cel­e­brat­ing Veterans Day was im­por­tant.

“I think it’s a good thing to do,” said Ella.

LEAH MCDON­ALD - ONEIDA DAILY DISPATCH

Chil­dren pet horses at the Oneida Pub­lic Li­brary on Satur­day, Nov. 11, 2017, dur­ing a pro­gram about an­i­mals that went to war.

LEAH MCDON­ALD - ONEIDA DAILY DISPATCH

Chil­dren pet horses at the Oneida Pub­lic Li­brary on Satur­day, Nov. 11, 2017, dur­ing a pro­gram about an­i­mals that went to war.

LEAH MCDON­ALD - ONEIDA DAILY DISPATCH

Youth Ser­vices Co­or­di­na­tor Me­gan Gil­lan­der reads “Find­ing Win­nie” at the Oneida Pub­lic Li­brary on Satur­day, Nov. 11, 2017, dur­ing a pro­gram about an­i­mals that went to war.

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