LEAP: Leaders for Ethics, Animals, and the Planet

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We are thrilled to announce that the 2023 LEAP program now has six participating sanctuaries with the addition of Herd and Flock, Goatlandia, and Charlie’s Acres! Founded by three non-profit animal sanctuaries in Northern California – Jameson Humane, Blackberry Creek, and Rancho Compasión – we are transforming LEAP into its own non-profit in 2023 to begin a movement to reach youth across the country.

This new humane education program, “Leaders for Ethics, Animals, and the Planet” (LEAP) offers participants hands-on farmed and domestic animal care experience, humane education, and the opportunity to earn a $1000 scholarship by volunteering at participating animal sanctuaries. We encourage any interested high school students to apply for the 2023-2024 academic year. You can apply starting August 7th for the 2023-2024 program with a deadline of September 5th. 

Weekly, from September 11th to May 26th, for 10 hours per month, students and their peers will meet at the local participating animal sanctuary to care for rescued animals, assist with infrastructure projects, and attend humane education courses, all culminating in a community-based project related to the rescued animals. LEAP empowers students to be compassionate catalysts for change, by addressing three main points: the ethics of using animals for industry, connecting with and caring for rescued farmed animals, and what we can do to curb climate change.

The LEAP program was born through a similar concept conceived at Blackberry Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary by Co-Founder Danielle Hanosh. "The original student leadership program named, KEEPERS (Kindness, Ethics, Education, Philanthropy, Empowerment, Responsibility, and Sustainability), began in 2017 at Blackberry Creek and was inspired by the bravery of a high school student named Audori. After participating in a traditional ag program, she decided that the kindest and most ethical thing she could do for her beloved pig, Sebastian, was to save him from slaughter and ensure he had the long, happy life he deserved. 

Sebastian’s story turned into the catalyst that inspired other students to reach out, seeking not only sanctuary for the animals they had lovingly raised, but the chance to continue to care for and learn about farmed animals while being directly involved in changing the way society views them. With the need evident for an opportunity that would encompass leadership, responsibility, sustainability, and compassion, the first iteration of the program was born." 

LEAP students will receive many of the same opportunities that other agricultural programs offer – collaboration with peers from around the region, participating in local events, learning from experts and mentors, receiving financial compensation for their work, and, spending time with the animals – but without the financial and emotional burden of raising and showing a slaughter-bound animal. 

“Many students have a strong desire to work alongside animals, and predominant ag programs answer that desire - preparing young students for careers in the field of agriculture and providing access to hands-on animal experience, life and business skills, and even financial compensation. However, students who raise slaughter-bound animals are confronted with difficult and sometimes distressing experiences in order to complete these programs. These other ag programs shame students who do not wish to slaughter their animal, whereas LEAP teaches that there is always a compassionate option. LEAP provides the solution to these outdated models by teaching students about kind care systems for animals in a supportive social-emotional learning environment,” says Miyoko Schinner, Founder of Rancho Compasión and Co-Founder of LEAP.

Students will become adept at: 

  • public interface & networking
  • group leadership & personal leadership: leading by example, and leading a life aligned with their ethics
  • problem solving 
  • practical hands-on skills, whether on the ranch or in the office
  • social-emotional learning and empathy 

Upon completion, students will be rewarded with financial compensation, letters of recommendation, and be connected with a vast network of nonprofits and mentors. Families will not be required to pay for feed, animal husbandry equipment, medical costs, and other financial burdens. The students are paid fairly and competitively for their work, opening up possibilities for a career path in animal rights and welfare.

Monica Stevens, Co-Founder of Jameson Humane and LEAP relays, “we are excited to provide a different opportunity. It is high time. We regularly receive calls from students in other ag programs who have lovingly cared for pigs, cows, sheep, and goats, and have come to the realization that they will be going to auction, to slaughter, and want to do what they can to save them. Jameson knows there is a more compassionate path for students who would like to work with and do better by the animals.” 

Hanosh adds, “LEAP encourages students that empathy for others is a strength, not a weakness. With humanity at a major crossroads, there’s no better time for our youth to leap forward into a more compassionate and forward-thinking society.”


"I learned about the workers in factory farms and how many of them are undocumented immigrants who work for low wages in harsh conditions. I also learned about the benefits eating plant based can have on the environment and climate change and even one’s health. The animals are treated so cruelly within factory farms and they don’t have a voice. They need leaders to speak up for them, which is what Leapers can learn from this program." - 2023 LEAPer