S.T.A.R. Team History

On-going Relationships

Fall 2018 – PRESENT: Morrison Child and Family Services
Foster Care

Our teams work with youths at two sites.

Spring 2017 – PRESENT: Catlin Gabel “Experiential Days”

Each Spring, Catlin Gabel hosts a series of special events, and we’ve been happy to be included. Two to three teams present an interactive workshop on dog safety and training – the kids love it!

Summer 2016 – PRESENT: Good Neighbor Center Summer School

Highly popular and successful weekly addition to their 12-week summer program. We’re now exploring ways to support their school-year activities.

Fall 2015 – Present: SCARS (Survivor Collective Alliance, Reaching Society)

We love supporting their annual SurvivorCon event at Beaverton City Park!

Fall 2015 – PRESENT: Clackamas Women’s Services

We’re excited to be working with this amazing group – this increases our service range to yet another county. We support both the DV shelter and activities at A Safe Place.

Spring 2015 – PRESENT: HomePlate Youth Services

Initially our visits targeted the various drop-in nights, but it became clear that this model did not map well to this population. This triggered an organizational “light bulb” moment when we recognized that we needed to adapt what we offered to match the priorities of the youths (for homeless youths, sheer basic survival) and our partner HomePlate (provide access to basic needs, AND GIVE THEM JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND EXPERIENCE). End result: we have 3 times created recurring jobs helping us train our dogs for videos promoting dog adoption. These jobs give the youths not only the usual positives associated with our dog training program, but also (1) experience in filling out applications, responding to employer contact emails/texts, showing up on time and ready to work; and (2) a small monetary assist and a letter of recommendation at the end of the series.

July 2014 – PRESENT: Trillium Family Services (Parry Center)

Our teams work mostly one-on-one with individual kiddos, but once or twice monthly a team works with larger groups. You may also see us among their Street Team marchers in the annual Pride Parade.

Spring 2013 – PRESENT: Raphael House of Portland

Thumbs up on Raphael House! We’ve seen amazing transformations in children in a few short weeks – NOT due to us, I hasten to say, but rather to their full-court press in support of the younglings. We are proud to be part of their team. Raphael House is also our sponsor for state-required advocacy training.

Spring 2013 – PRESENT: Monika’s House

Monika’s House continues to be one of our staunchest allies, even assisting with DV shelter-specific parts of our S.T.A.R. Team training.

Spring 2011 – PRESENT: McKay Elementary

At the end of May, 2011 STAR ran a 4-class pilot with twelve specially selected 2nd and 3rd grade students at McKay Elementary school in the Beaverton School District. Linda Keast and Eli were the STAR team, assisted by four LEP High School students as part of their senior project.

How did it go?

Counselors have asked us back to work with smaller groups during the Spring of every school year since. Eli has learned how to bowl, and Lili was trained to track and find the lost “baby that crawled away during the family picnic”.

From Counselor Ms. Dyall:
“Working with Eli has helped our students learn skills in getting along with others, such as being respectful and influencing others in positive ways. It has been a unique opportunity to teach social skills in a new way, adding to the school’s anti-bullying and violence prevention curriculum.”

From a parent of one of the participating kids:
“I just wanted to let you know that the dog training was a big hit. N. learned how to be more aware of our dog’s actions and how he was reacting to her. She learned how to command and how to follow through with our dog. She is simply able to do better as well with humans. She has learned how to read people and their reactions to situations and has been able to stand up and get her information out to the other person.

I hope this will continue next year. N. was not aware that she was learning while she was teaching the dog the commands. Thank you for allowing N. to be in this class – it was a winner!!

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Single Events

November 2018: Consent Convergence: Youth Empowerment Summit PSU

4 teams presented the workshop “Do You Wanna Play?”  Modern dog training is 100% based on clear communication, positive reinforcement, and CONSENT. We used dog training exercises to weave together the attendees’ own choices as participants in the workshop (e.g., do you want to work with that dog in front of everyone, or just watch?) and the choices offered our off-leash dogs as we clicker-train them to do new and fun behaviors – for the dogs, this is all a marvelous game since they trust us to follow the rules. CLICK HERE for the handout – you’ll see how closely this mirrors inter-human consent issues, but expressed in a less embarrassing way.

January 2018: Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum “Reaching for the Stars” Event

This was AWESOME! Two of our teams got to run a booth at this educational event for those with special needs. Scheduling conflicts kept us away in 2019, but we’re totally ready to come back if invited in the future.

2016 – 2017: Portland Police BoyStrength Program

A tentative “toe in the water” at their summer camp went well enough that we’ve been asked back to supplement the SUN BoyStrength series at NE Elementary schools during the Fall, Winter, and Spring.

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Summer 2015: Frog Hollow Girl Scout Summer Camp

A full, exhausting week of interlacing our dog-safety and training modules into the already impressive curriculum of skills taught these young ladies out at  Champoeg State Park. The Girl Scouts also support us during S.T.A.R. Team training and testing, allowing our teams to work with real children!

Summer 2013: Adelante Chicas!

We presented three 80-minute Animal Training/Behavioral Science workshops on July 15 at the Descubriendo STEM! (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) summer camp for 3rd-12th grade Latinas: Adelante Chicas! This amazing program, which takes place on the beautiful Pacific University campus, is offered by Adelante Mujeres!  We went through a TON of sweet-potato bits (the dogs) and teddy grahams (the girls)!

Summer 2012: Chehalem Youth and Family Services

During the summer of 2012 we were invited to work with the “Pet Club” – a group of young male teens in the two of the foster homes. To give them a fun and achievable goal suitable for their age level, we took on creation of a video starring Eli, Lili, and two of the counselors’ dogs. While half of the group worked directly with the dogs, the other half practice filming the activity. The young men created a working script which incorporated the dogs’ repertoire of tricks, trained the dogs, and filmed! No, the video is not yet complete, but you’ll see it on YouTube soon.

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Summer 2011 Pilot: Harkins House

STAR trainers were recruited by the Washington County Juvenile Department to run two concurrent 8-class series at Harkins House, an evaluation and assessment shelter in Hillsboro, during the month of July, 2011. The 40-minute classes were divided roughly into 13-15 year olds and 15-18 year olds.

CLICK HERE to read the intial Harkins House plan. The final project for both sets of youths was a field trip to the Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary to train goats in behaviors that will make their care easier.

How did it go?

In the words of Mike Riggan, the Manager:
“Linda, Eli, and friends provided a great service to our youth.  Competing for and holding the attention of six – nine juvenile offenders and teaching a novel skill set is a challenge.  Linda’s patience and Eli’s good humor made the program a success. 

Our kids learned new skills, but more importantly, how to treat other living things with kindness and respect.  This is invaluable.  When staff report that even the most recalcitrant of youth is quietly participating and enjoying the program, you know that something special is being offered to youth.”

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