Hands-On Humane Education

The Education Department at Helen Woodward Animal Center serves children of all ages by providing a variety of unique learning opportunities which support the bond between humans and animals by nurturing knowledge, compassion and respect toward all living things.

Programs provide a variety of hands-on animal interactions for children of all ages from rabbits, horses and dogs, to snakes, birds and invertebrates. Learn more about our Animal Education Programs below!


Critter Camp is San Diego’s Best Animal Camp for kids from Preschool through 8th Grade!

Winner of Best Kids’ Camp in the “Best of Ranch & Coast 2020″

Children will experience amazing hands-on animal interactions and camp activities, including animal-themed games, crafts, songs and more!



Spring Tails

Spring has sprung in the Education Department! Perfect for school groups and families; discover all the fascinating changes that take place in the animal world during this time of the year.

HowlOWeen Harvest

Whether they have scales or sharp nails, all animals deserve compassion and respect! Kids and families will learn about how we can help all animals, not just the cute and cuddly ones!

Critters Save Christmas

Join Santa and his festive animal ambassadors as families come together to enjoy the magical spirit of this holiday with animal encounters, games, crafts, and more.
Critters Save Christmas



Our animal ambassadors can’t wait to celebrate your birthday with you! We make planning a party easy with three party packages that aim to fit your needs.

Animal Care Camp

Learn about the many facets of animal husbandry, from preparing diets to exercise and training, with the help of our variety of animal ambassadors such as hoof stock, small mammals, reptiles, and birds at this day camp.

Vet Camp

Children can explore the rewarding field of veterinary medicine with this one day camp full of hands-on activities, animal interactions, and more.

Girl Scouts

We offer badge earning activities for Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes or join us for a Custom Scout Trip that is personalized to fit your troop’s age and interests.

Interactive Animal Encounters

You choose your own path with this customizable program, great for families or small groups. Choose from our over 30 different animal species as you explore a topic of your choosing and participate in an activity that will be sure to create lifelong memories.


Learn about dog behavior and overcome your fear with one-on-one sessions that aim to build your confidence around dogs.

School Programs

We bring humane education to the classroom with school outreaches or on-site school field trips.

Crafting With Critters

This session will explore a different style of art and include a different animal muse that includes hands-on interaction with their animal model.
Crafting With Critters


Due to construction on our new Humane Education Campus, our parking directions have changed and space is limited, carpooling is greatly appreciated and recommended.


Lot A: Google Map off El Apajo, the parking lot in front of the Adoptions building with the Helen Woodward Animal Center sign. Park and enter the wooden gate of our covered pavilion.

  • Please do not park in spots labeled “Adopters Only”.


Lot B: Google Map off Helen Woodward Way (off San Dieguito), follow the road straight then turn left at the stop sign. After parking, walk towards the large white building with the red roof until you see our covered pavilion.

  • Any day, you can park in any spots that aren’t labeled “Reserved” beyond the automatic white gate.
  • During the weekend only, you can park in the spots labeled “Visitor” before the automatic white gate.


I-5 Northbound (coming from the South San Diego)

  • I-5 North to Del Mar Heights Rd. exit 34
  • Right (east) turn on Del Mar Heights Rd. – 0.5 miles
  • Left turn on El Camino Real – 1.9 miles
  • Right turn on San Dieguito Rd. – 3.2 miles
  • Lot A: Left turn on El Apajo, at the light. Drive a little bit, then left turn into the parking lot.
  • Lot B: Left turn on Helen Woodward Way (just before El Apajo Rd.).


I-5 Southbound (coming from the North Oceanside, Encinitas)

  • I-5 South to Via De La Valle exit 36
  • Left turn (east) on Via De La Valle – 1.4 miles
  • Right turn on El Camino Real – 0.5 miles
  • Left turn on San Dieguito Rd. – 3.2 miles
  • Lot A: Left turn on El Apajo, at the light. Drive a little bit, then left turn into the parking lot.
  • Lot B: Left turn on Helen Woodward Way (just before El Apajo Rd.).


1-15 Northbound (coming from the South Poway, Rancho Bernardo, and Scripps Ranch)

  • I-15 North to Camino Del Norte exit 22
  • Left (west) turn on Camino Del Norte – 2.7 miles
  • Continue on Camino Del Sur – 3.6 miles
  • Right turn on San Dieguito Rd. – 2.7 miles
  • Lot A: Right turn on El Apajo, at the light. Drive a little bit, then left turn into the parking lot.
  • Lot B: Right turn on Helen Woodward Way (just before El Apajo Rd.).


I-15 Southbound (coming from the North Temecula, Riverside, Escondido)

  • I-15 South to Rancho Bernardo Rd. exit 24
  • Right (west) turn on Rancho Bernardo Rd. – 2.6 miles
  • Right turn on Camino Del Sur – 3.6 miles
  • Right turn on San Dieguito Rd. – 2.7 miles
  • Lot A: Right turn on El Apajo, at the light. Drive a little bit, then left turn into the parking lot.
  • Lot B: Right turn on Helen Woodward Way (just before El Apajo Rd.).


**Please note: Helen Woodward Way is NOT accessible via El Apajo; you must enter from San Dieguito Road. It is closed via El Apajo by a traffic gate only the fire department can operate that isn’t visible on GPS and Google maps.

Parking Map

If you have any questions, please call us at 858-756-4117 x318 or e-mail: education@animalcenter.org  


It is our mission to show the community all of the amazing ways people help animals and animals help people, and that is why we are proud to offer scholarships to our Education programs so that anyone has the opportunity to participate!

Click here for the scholarship guidelines and application

Completed applications can be sent in a few ways:

  1. Email the application and materials (scanned in or clear photos taken) to the Education Associate Director, Haylee Blake, at hayleeb@animalcenter.org
  2. Mail the application and materials to Attn: Education Associate Director, PO Box 64, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
  3. The application and materials are dropped off in person to the Education Associate Director during the department’s regular business hours, at 6463 Helen Woodward Way, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

If you have any questions, please contact Haylee Blake at hayleeb@animalcenter.org or 858-756-4117 ext 317

In commemoration of our 50th Anniversary, the “Sharing the Earth” booklet, first published in 1982, was recently updated and is designed especially for use in the fifth-grade classroom, in order to meet the need for humane education instructional materials.  The booklet contains reproducible materials designed to increase the basic interrelationships between animals and humans by providing for lively activities that can both capture children’s interest and extend their knowledge.

A limited number of “Sharing the Earth” booklets include a display poster and are currently available to purchase for $35 plus tax and shipping.

To purchase your copy of “Sharing the Earth”, please call 858-756-4117 ext. 318 or email education@animalcenter.org.

Purchase the gift of making memories with our hands-on animal interactions! Redeemable on any of our programs. Expires 12 months after purchase date. Select a gift card with our minimum requirement to run most programs ($75) or set a value of your choosing. Buy Gift Cards Here

Your program fee helps support all of our adoptable animals, as well as the many human and animal services Helen Woodward Animal Center provides.

For more information:
Please contact us at education@animalcenter.org or 858-756-4117 ext. 318

Follow us online to get more humane education virtually including animal facts, cute animal photos and videos, and notifications about upcoming programs!

Contact us today to schedule your program!

Education Office: 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday–Friday
Programs offered: Monday–Sunday

Education Front Desk

858-756-4117 ext. 318

Associate Director of Education

Haylee Blake
858-756-4117 ext. 317


P.O. Box 64, 6461 El Apajo Road

Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

Due to Hurricane Hilary, all  departments will be closing at 3pm today.  Stay safe!