The mission of the Youth Ambassador K9 Career Program (YAP-K9) is to educate America’s youth about the working canine field and prepare them to fill tomorrow’s professional positions.  This is accomplished through “real world” presentations, on-site demonstrations, academic, volunteer and career information and opportunities on all levels with the involvement of multi-disciplinary canine field subject matter experts and YAP-K9 Ambassador mentors. YAP-K9 is a program of Tails of Hope Foundation, Inc.®


YAP-K9’s program formally launched on February 23, 2012 in Delaware to 900 students, rave reviews and tremendous success.  That inaugural day-long career-focused event included presenters from the American Kennel Club, the United States Army’s Military Working Dog Program, Department of Homeland Security Headquarters, FEMA, Guiding Eyes, the Delaware State Police, K9 Search and Rescue Unit, the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Vet Working Dog Program and sixteen professional K9 teams.  The presenters’ consensus was the “program exceeded expectations to outstanding” and our program was instantly invited to present to 250,000 FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) teachers nationwide.

Since its inception thousands of students have successfully participated via highly visible events, including in public, charter and private school programs in urban, suburban and rural communities, and through youth services organizations, such as 4H, FFA, Girl and Boy Scouts achieving their Silver, Gold and Eagle Awards. 

YAP-K9 has attracted such organizations participants as: The American Institute of Architects, artists, construction companies such as The Home Depot Foundation, Schwartzman Animal Medical Center of New York, the largest a veterinary hospital in the world, K9 field titans from Homeland Security, the FBI, the Military, Search and Rescue, Boy/Girl Scouts, service organizations, etc.

YAP-K9 has been recognized via invitation to The White House for a conference with high level national security staff, at the inaugural Military Working Dog Contingent in the New York City Veterans Day Parade, the inaugural Animals in War and Peace Medal of Bravery Ceremony on Capitol Hill in DC, Connecticut and New Jersey’s K9 Veterans Day Ceremonies, on the Senator Floor at Connecticut’s State Capitol and by Connecticut’s entire General Assembly.  

Maura Herron, BA

Youth Ambassador K9 Career Program
Project Manager

Maura Herron is the Project Manager of Tails of Hope Foundation’s Youth Ambassador K9 Career Program (YAP-K9), and YAP-K9’s first inaugural member to graduate college.  Maura graduated magna cum laude a semester early from Mount St. Mary’s University with BA degrees in Sociology and Criminal Justice with a research concentration in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Maura joined the YAP-K9 program at the age of 11 after meeting TOHF’s President, Linda Blick, in a therapy handler certification class.  After receiving her handler certification from Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Maura continued volunteering both as a handler and a YAP-K9 Ambassador.  She developed a strong interest in the field.  Maura and her partner, K9 Maggie, frequently worked in nursing homes and the READ program.

Over the years Maura has participated in YAP-K9 with her certified therapy dog and at TOHF’s high visibility events including annual appearances at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, NYC.  Maura assisted with, and participated in, national security K9 team demonstrations and certified therapy dog “meet and greets” to comfort those affected by the 9/11 brutal terrorists’ attacks.

By the end of her senior year of high school and after nine years in the program, Maura had been accepted into every college she applied to. With K9 “Maggie” retiring and a strong interest in research, Maura decided to attend Mount St. Mary’s University and continue both her education in the field and volunteering with YAP-K9.  

During her undergraduate experience Maura participated in multiple events including the Animals in War and Peace Inaugural Medal of Bravery Ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  Tails of Hope Foundation served as co-show runner and Maura participated in the K9 Processional honoring all national security K9s and working dogs. Maura and her 2- and 4-legged professional processional colleagues photos went viral worldwide.  Other events Maura participated in included TOHF’s annual K9 Veterans Day, Sweetest Thank You Party and Operation Red Carpet ceremonies.   Most recently Maura represented YAP-K9 at the Service and Sacrifice Sculpture Dedication Ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial Visitors Center.

Through YAP-K9, Maura has continuously worked with the military, law enforcement and search and rescue K9 teams. She is now serving as YAP-K9’s Project Manager with Jordan Baldwin, YAP -K9’s Diversity Director who both co-lead the YAP-K9 National Advisory Board.

The Youth Ambassador K9 Career Program and YAP-K9 are trademarks of Tails of Hope Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

My name is Kelly Fuchs and I am a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient from Troop 4169.  I will be entering my sophomore year at Purdue University.  Ever since I can remember, my parents have instilled the importance of loving and respecting our country, our history, and the people who fight for our freedom.  I also have a tremendous amount of love and respect for two of my great-uncles who served our country.  My Great-Uncle Frank McMahon who served in the Navy and my Great-Uncle Danny Roche who served in the Vietnam War. All of these factors played a key role in choosing my Gold Award project.  We are all aware that when veterans return to civil life, the transition can be daunting.  The purpose of my project was to honor one veteran in a way that would not only be an example for the community to prove that we can all do something to honor a veteran, but to shed light on the fact that as Americans, we should be doing more for our veterans. 
My introduction to Linda Blick and the Tails of Hope Foundation, Inc. provided me with the exact opportunity I was looking for in my project.  Ms. Blick introduced me to David, a local veteran who is 100% service disabled, and his service dog, Patrick.  Veteran David dedicated his life to serving our country, and sacrificed so much during his 17 years of service.  While he suffers with severe physical pain, he maintains a positive attitude and is a true American hero.  Throughout the years, David and his dog, Patrick, have worked with Tails of Hope Foundation, Inc. in speaking with other veterans and helping them through difficult times. 
With help from friends and family I was able to create a space for David in his basement where he can go to relax, collect his thoughts, and sort through his sports cards and memorabilia.  When I first started the project, the basement had an unfinished concrete floor, sections of drywall were missing, and the ceiling was nothing more than structural beams. To fund my project I organized a very large garage sale with items donated by community members. I also sought donations from local businesses, members of the community, and received a grant from The Home Depot. The cooperative effort of volunteers from the community and businesses allowed my vision to become a reality. I was able to utilize skills I gained in my high school engineering classes to organize, plan, and implement the project. I installed new flooring and ceiling, sheet-rocked and painted the walls, installed cabinets, and purchased furniture. 
This project helped me develop confidence to share my ideas and vision with others.  The Tails of Hope Foundation gave me the opportunity to go to the inaugural Animals in War and Peace Ceremony in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill and spread my message beyond my local community. The response I received from my community showed me that people  have a desire to make a difference. By stepping up as a leader on this project, I saw that I could be the one to organize and implement a plan to allow others to get involved. We can all make a difference.