Helping Youth Become Solutionaries: The Rockville, Maryland Proposed Deer Hunt

For my blog post today, I wanted to share a letter I wrote to the mayor and council members of Rockville, Maryland, regarding their proposed deer hunt. While they are hearing from many people and experts, I specifically wanted to address the issue as a humane educator.


To the mayor and council members of Rockville, Maryland:

I am the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, and it’s come to my attention that Rockville is considering a deer hunt. I wanted to write to express my concern, specifically about the effect on children of a deer hunt. As a humane educator – someone who teaches about the interconnected issues of human rights, environmental preservation, and animal protection in an effort to provide students with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to be solutionaries for a better world – I believe that a deer hunt would represent not only a poor solution to the problem Rockville faces, but also be detrimental to youth.

At a time when it’s so important to foster reverence and compassion among children and to increase their “nature literacy,” a deer hunt has the potential to quash that empathy and appreciation and dull their creative and problem-solving capacities. We are capable of finding safer, more humane, more peaceful methods for addressing local challenges with wildlife, and if Rockville simply resorts to a hunt, the message that healthy, humane solutions are possible is lost. And because it is lost among youth who most need to cultivate these critical thinking skills for a changing world, there is the likelihood that many young people – especially the brightest and most creative – will lose a tremendous opportunity for innovation.

Perhaps the students in Rockville schools could address the challenge of deer proliferation in Rockville, studying the issue and using it as a real-life example in their science, math, social studies, government, and language arts curricula. Inviting youth to first study and then come up with ideas for solving local wildlife challenges would be wonderful pedagogy and help Rockville set a precedent for engaging its young population in solutionary thinking. It would also prevent the dulling of young people’s compassion and love for other species, a quality we should be nurturing at a time when habitat is being destroyed, species are becoming extinct, and humanity is threatening the ecosystems upon which we all depend.

Zoe Weil


Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education

Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education

My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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