Last year, on this very blog, Dr. Steven Hansen, Arizona Humane Society (AHS)’s President & CEO, challenged the field to the Great CAWA Throwdown, with his goal for AHS to achieve the distinction of the organization with the most CAWA-certified team members on staff. Currently, AHS boasts 4 Certified Animal Welfare Administrators, professionals who’ve distinguished their skills in an already demanding field. And in this month’s spotlight, we’re thrilled to introduce you to one of them. Meet Linda Anderson, AHS’ Director of Animal Care and Experience.
The Association: How long have you been a CAWA?
Linda Anderson: I guess you can call me the newbie…2021.
The Association: How did you prepare for the CAWA exam?
Linda Anderson: Here’s my five-part strategy:
- Study group! This was key for me, great for accountability since we all know how chaotic the sheltering world is.
- Studying on my own.
- Collaborating with peers. Two of my peers recently earned their certification; they provided support and insight.
- The buddy system worked well for my peers, so my boss and I embarked on this journey together, quizzing, researching, and supporting each other.
- Utilizing the study group notes, practice test, and The Association’s Learning Center.
The Association: Walk us through exam day. How did you feel before, during, after?
Linda Anderson: I was nervous. I had prepared all year for this moment; I had my study group cheerleaders, a head full of information, and was standing on the cusp of a goal realization.
The day of the exam was a morning full of information review and encouragement texts. As I prepared to start my test, I focused on the words of encouragement and clicked on question number one. As I submitted my last answer, I held my breath…I passed! I took the deepest breath ever; I felt terrific and proud.
The Association: We’ve written about Arizona Humane’s incredible Animal Experience program that you oversee. How have you put your CAWA skills in action in this role?
Linda Anderson: Think on a grander scale, explore new avenues, exchange information and ideas. For example, this program was recently picked up by the College of Veterinary Medicine at The University of Florida to become part of their Shelter Animal Behavior and Welfare course.
The Association: Wow! Congratulations. Final question for you… Please share one piece of practical advice for those considering becoming a CAWA.
Linda Anderson: Animal welfare needs you, like-minded, driven professionals, to improve the world of animal sheltering. The pride you will experience and opportunities that will present themselves make it all worthwhile. Stay focused and strong; the journey is not easy but well worth it.
And speaking of opportunities, I am excited to be on the committee for The Association’s Spring Conference.
The Association: Thank you for your enthusiasm…we can’t wait to see you and your colleagues in Chicago this June.