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Kay Bathke - Volunteering for good!

Posted by Simon Lockrey on



Colorado native Kay Bathke has been in the electrical engineering game for decades but a few years back got into volunteering at her local Foothills Animal Shelter. She has been deploying Glowpears to grow produce for a range of purposes at the shelter, so we asked her all about what she does there.

GP: Tell us about yourself.
KB: I live in Arvada, Colorado with my husband. We have three adult children and two beautiful grandchildren. I've worked for electrical engineering companies as an electrical designer and project manager for the last 38 years. We create the drawings used to construct the electrical systems in buildings. 
In 2017, I began volunteering at Foothills Animal Shelter.
GP: What is Foothills Animal Shelter?
KB: Foothills Animal Shelter is located in Golden, Colorado, and serves Jefferson Country and some of the municipalities in the county, which comprise the western suburbs of the Denver Metro area. It is an open admission 'Fear Free' shelter serving both the animals and people of our community. It is a place full of people who love animals and are striving to do their best by them and the community.
GP: What are your volunteer roles at Foothills Animal Shelter?
Volunteering has been an amazing experience and brings me great joy. I've had a few different volunteer positions over the last five years. I love learning about them all the volunteer positions! Right now, I have volunteer shifts walking our extended stay dogs and answering the shelter phones. Nothing beats hanging out with multiple different dogs who are so happy to see you. It gets even better when the nervous ones start to trust you and seek you out. It's always a great day when I volunteer.
We also began fostering during Covid. We fostered cats and dogs while they were awaiting medical treatment or recovering. We foster until we met our first foster "fail". Daisy was a 14-year-old beagle. She had a few medical issues so turns out she might not be a good adoption candidate, so we adopted her thinking she was hospice. True to being a stubborn beagle, the old lady lived with us for 18+ months, spoiled like crazy every day, and bossing our other dogs around the whole time. We haven't gone back to foster yet but I hope to soon.
GP: How do Glowpear and Foothills Animal Shelter come together?
KB: One other role I've taken on is planting the Shelter's two Glowpear Urban Garden planters each spring with various lettuces and herbs for our small animal's enrichment.  I'm not sure why I decided to take this on - I really didn't have much gardening experience! I would love to be an experienced gardener, but life and work tend to get in the way!
So, that first year, I did a bit of research on what foods were safe for the various animals and went for it! I was flying blind but it worked out OK.  After that, I did a bit more research. We didn't have paperwork on the planters, but I figured out they were Glowpear products. I easily found information on the planter on the website. I first reached out to Glowpear to inquire about purchasing a few new plugs since I'd manage to damage one of them (I'm not handy either!). The planters really work great for us! We've been very appreciative of Glowpear's support when we've inquired about replacement parts. You are amazing to work with! 
Each year I've planted various items, trying out what works best for the staff and animals. I've planted lots of different variety of leaf lettuces, romaine, arugula, kale, peppers, carrots, edible flowers like pansy, as well as various herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint, dill, and fennel. I've been told the rabbits love the parsley! All of these veggies are treats and enrichment for the animals; their main food needs to be hay for most of them. I wonder if we could grow hay in a planter? My lovely husband helps me get the planters ready each spring.  I'm also very thankful for our wonderful Volunteer Manager Kristen Galles, who graciously has helped in keeping the planter reservoirs full. She's the best! 
I love to grab a handful of veggies and give the small animals a treat. The guinea pigs are my favorite. They get so excited and start chirping and squeaking. I love their little noises. So cute!
For the last couple of years, the Urban Garden planters have been located near our Admissions entrance. They look great and help draw attention to this particular entrance that is tucked into a small alcove.   


We think that just sounds amazing Kay! 


You can find more about volunteering and the Shelter below:


Foothills Animal Shelter | Animal Shelter | Dog & Cat Shelter

(20+) Foothills Animal Shelter | Golden CO | Facebook

Foothills Animal Shelter (@foothillsanimalshelter) • Instagram photos and videos

Foothills Animal Shelter - YouTube

Images courtesy of Foothills Animal Shelter and Kay.

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