Visitors Views - CU Boulder student group
I teach a course at CU through the Department of Sociology called “Animals and Society.” Throughout the semester, I try to help students understand how the ways we use animals produce contradictory attitudes toward them. It is the norm to treat some species, such as dogs and cats, as family members but treat cows, pigs, and chickens as commodities. Until we have reason to question this different treatment, most of us take the stereotypes for granted. Because few of us ever get to know any of the animals who are commonly raised for food, the stereotypes go unchallenged. Fortunately, Peaceful Prairie made that possible for some students in my course.
Soon after the start of the semester, I said that I would take interested students to Peaceful Prairie to help out and meet the animals. I was heartened that over a dozen students responded. I reminded them about the “work” part of the trip. Undaunted, ten students in all agreed to go. We found dates that suited everyone’s schedules and spent two sunny Saturdays at PPS.
On both days, Bumper and Bluto served as our welcoming committee. After we met the other animals and heard their stories, we began cleaning the yards and barns. Of course, we stopped occasionally to scratch Lucas’s bristle, stroke Marvin’s feathers, or just to watch the incredibly rich social life around us. My experience there was doubly rewarding. For in addition to spending time with the animals, I witnessed the students’ transformations that day. I’ll let some of them speak for themselves.
Leslie Irvine, Sociology Professor, CU Boulder
My first experience at Peaceful Prairie forever changed my assumptions about “farm” animals. For example, I had always envisioned pigs as being dirty, conniving, and rather aggressive animals. In stark contrast, they defied these conventions through good hygiene, cooperation with other species, and a temperament that was as docile as an old Saint Bernard. The other animals equally transformed, and in some cases shattered, my previous assumptions. The atmosphere was one of cooperation, unspoken respect, cleanliness, and most of all, it was a place teeming with love. As the name Peaceful Prairie suggests, the place serves as an example that in an environment without abuse and full of compassion, only peace can prevail.
Jack Ringel, a senior with a double major in Philosophy and Sociology
My experience at Peaceful Prairie was life changing. It was so rewarding to work all day with and around those amazing animals. All of the information that I learned that day has made me look at our society differently and has made me want to reduce my impact as much as possible. I would like to thank Michele, Chris, and all the animals for letting us visit.
Stephanie Collins, a junior majoring in Broadcast News
My trip to the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary proved to be an overall enlightening experience. Working with the animals was extremely rewarding. Not very many people growing up in suburbia get to be around animals like cows, goats, and chickens, and it turns out they are friendly and great!
Erin Auerbach, a senior majoring in Sociology ___________________________________________________
Before going there, I never fully understood what it was like to genetically alter an animal. Seeing these chickens with such deformations caused by the production for human consumption truly disgusted me.
Caitlin Wall, a junior majoring in Sociology
I felt very proud to know these young people. I’m grateful to Michele and Chris for giving us the opportunity to visit Peaceful Prairie. They have touched many lives.