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New IHAC Adjunct Faculty, Betty Jean Curran

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Animals and Human Health Certificate: Fresh Perspective on HAEI in Community

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Betty Jean poses next to a camel in an indoor arena

The Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) is excited to welcome Betty Jean Curran to the adjunct faculty team for the Animals and Human Health (AHH) professional development certificate program. Curran is a Licensed Master Social Worker, educator, and writer with a passion for program design and evaluation. With a focus in trauma recovery, she is particularly interested in programs that integrate human-animal-environment interactions in ethical and sustainable ways. 

Curran is returning to IHAC after several years working in a community-based nonprofit serving humans and animals in her hometown. After graduating from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work with her MSW and Animal-Assisted Social Work certificate (now the Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in Social Work), Betty Jean worked as the Director of Student Services at EPEC’s The Grooming Project, a job training program in the art of dog grooming for parents caught in the generational cycle of poverty. While her main job at EPEC was to work closely with students, case managers and community partners to provide intensive wrap-around social services, programming, and soft skills training to help students address barriers to personal and financial stability, part of her role was to help the organization become more intentional about developing curricula and programs that elevate the therapeutic role of the human animal bond. Curran shared,

“I am honored to be working with IHAC as an AHH instructor where I will get to work with like-minded researchers, professors, students and professionals in furthering the field of Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in ways that are evidence-based, ethical and sustainable. IHAC has been instrumental in my education as a social worker, and I always hoped to return to collaborate with past IHAC colleagues - and professionals new to the field-- who are truly on the cutting edge of this work. I could not be more excited for this new role!” 

Prior to graduating from GSSW, Curran interned at IHAC where she partnered with the City of Denver’s Office of Behavioral Strategies and many agencies serving Denver’s homeless population to develop creative programs that integrate the therapeutic aspects of the human-animal bond in homeless outreach services. She also worked closely with IHAC’s research team on the extensive documentation of Green Chimneys, a cutting-edge therapeutic farm and residential / day school in Brewster, New York.

Betty Jean also holds an M.A. in Literature and Cultural Studies from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS and a B.A./ B.S in Literature and Psychology from Avila University in Kansas City, MO.