Fifth grader Siri Kaelin moved across the country three years ago, from New York to California. Her family had two acres in New York, twice as much as the land they own on the West Coast. They had a dozen chickens, a dog, cat and a what Siri says was a beautiful view.
“Here in Folsom, we missed the connection with animals and nature,” Siri said. “So my mom and me decided we would like to volunteer somewhere and we did.”
Two years ago, the Blackberry Creek Animal Sanctuary had a volunteer day that Corinne, Siri’s mother, happened to see on Facebook. They visited the sanctuary, located in Colfax, CA and fell in love with it.
The Kaelins ended up becoming close with the sanctuary owners, Josh and Danielle Hanosh. Eventually, Siri’s dad joined in on the 50-minute drive out to the sanctuary for volunteer work. Siri called the Hanoshes “kind and thoughtful people who love their animals.”
Siri and the Hanoshes became so close that Danielle and she made a vegan cooking channel called “The Kindness Kitchen.” Siri has been vegan since third grade, when she attended an Anonymous for the Voiceless outreach. It was there she saw where a lot of animal products come from and how animals were being mistreated.
“We were already not eating a lot of animal products before and decided to cut all of them out,” Siri said. “We initially said we could sometimes have an exception when we went to a restaurant, but none of us ever wanted to.”
Siri works every Friday at the sanctuary, where she cleans all of the animal buckets, feeds all the animals she can, cleans the special needs animals area and puts all the animals away with her parents. Speaking of parents, they are left with tasks like cleaning the big goat and sheep barn, the large chicken coop and a llama named Winnie’s area. They also assist Siri with the chores she can’t get done herself.
In addition to Winnie the llama, the sanctuary is also home to goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, pigs, dogs, cats, cows, donkeys, ducks, geese and even a tortoise.
Pigs surprised Siri the most.
“They are very affectionate and love when you pet them,” Siri said, sharing what she learned about them.
According to Siri, the hardest chore at the sanctuary is unloading animal feed and trucking it across the property. If there is no feed that day, cleaning out the big chicken coop can sometimes be tough.
Caring for animals is important to Siri because she feels animals should have the same living qualities and rights as humans.
“I also feel like I should make up for all the years I ate animal products,” she added. “I love being with animals and caring for them, I like to see how happy they are to have a clean place to live and food and water.”
In the future, Siri still sees herself volunteering at Blackberry Creek and years from now, she wants to be an activist for many things, but “mostly animal rights.” She also wants to open a vegan restaurant with a sanctuary someday too.
Siri’s favorite subjects in school include history and social studies and in her spare time, she loves being out in nature or with her friends.
“Some of my hobbies are drawing, biking, hoverboarding, tennis, volleyball and spending time with animals,” she said.
If Siri had one animal-related wish this holiday season, she wishes for all animals to have the same living qualities as humans and animal farming be stopped.