A few weeks ago I had the honor of having met Johnson County’s oldest citizen, 105 year old Ann Peckinpaugh. As I drove to meet her that morning, the thought struck that in time I’d like to interview and write about one of Johnson County’s youngest.
As I began my search for a young Johnson County citizen with an interesting story to tell, a name was offered up to me. As the suggested child and I share something in common, a deep love of animals; I eagerly began to search her out. Arriving for our interview, she bounded out of the car quickly approaching with a wide grin on her face; she carried some things she had been working on. This is what I found.
What do turtles, dogs, chinchillas, chickens, snakes, rats and birds all have in common? They are welcome, loved and cared for at the home of ten year old Harmony “Bean” Womack, a 5th grader at Cypress Elementary School. Although Bean likes school, basketball and softball; she loves animals, all kinds of animals.
Anatole France once said that “until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Bean’s first dog Jackers, and especially turtles, have all contributed to the awakening of this little soul with a great big heart.
Bean doesn’t just play with her pets, she is on a mission! She began her animal club “Don’t be Bitter, Save a Critter,” after the thought came to her one Easter Sunday morning while in church. She felt a need to educate people about animals and how they live. She was given support from members of her church as well as her school principal where she gave out cards inviting people to a meeting to learn about animals and how to properly care for them. The meeting was well attended. When asked if it makes her nervous or excited to speak in front of groups, her eyes lit up and she said, “Excited!” She has also presented to Americorp and Corp of Engineers groups. Bean was quick to mention and give credit to friends who have helped her with the club.
As one might suspect, Bean wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She has already helped a dog give birth and observed the artificial insemination of a cow. She enjoys looking for and rescuing bird and duck eggs and has helped with banding. Some people believe in leaving eggs alone and letting nature take its course. Bean’s feelings are that if a person knows what they are doing, why not help? I agree with her and we also found we are kindred spirits whereas we are both more dog than cat people. But what sets Bean apart from just loving animals in general is her deep fascination and connection with turtles.
This writer remembers two summers ago on a trip to Colorado shopping with one of Bean’s cousins. They wanted to buy her some earrings and kept looking through the many on display until they found some that were turtles. “Yep, she’ll love these,” he said.
See this article next week for more on Bean and her quest to be a friend to animals. This little soul isn’t just awake, it is wide awake and ready to take on the world one critter at a time.