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Announcing The First Prize Winners Of The 3rd Annual Mutt-i-grees® "America Adopts" PSA Contest

The results are in! The competition was fierce, but after reviewing dozens of PSA entries from across the country, the national First Prize winners of the 3rd Annual Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” PSA Contest have been decided. This year, the contest offered one First Prize winner in each of three categories. In the Pre-K – K category, the winner was The Arch Ford Early Education Program in Conway, AR; The Eagle Crest Elementary School in Longmont, CO took first place for the 1st – 5th grade category; and The Brookhaven Technical Center won the 6th – 12th grade category.

The PSA Contest is a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of the availability and desirability of shelter pets, otherwise known as Mutt-i-grees. Students from across the country submitted creative PSAs encouraging Americans to adopt from their local shelter or rescue group. The contest reflects the essence of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, a unique approach to teaching children social and emotional skills as well as highlighting the individual characteristics and needs of Mutt-i-grees. The Curriculum was developed by Yale University School of the 21st Century in collaboration with North Shore Animal League America and funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation. This year, students incorporated Scooby-Doo into their PSA entries as it was proudly announced to the world last year that “Scooby-Doo is a Mutt-i-gree® too!” The First Prize winners received a surprise visit to their school by Scooby-Doo, as well as Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol, and the Mutt-i-grees Team to present them with a $2500 educational grant and 100 Mutt-i-grees T-Shirts.

The First Prize Winners from the Arch Ford Education Cooperative’s Early Education Program are comprised of a group of Pre-K students from the Greenbrier ABC classroom. Teachers Melanie Brindley and Melinda Smith and Early Educational Director Judy Clay assisted the students in producing their video, which presents a unique comparison of the positive qualities exhibited by both the students and the shelter animals. Their message creates a discerning metaphor of how the students and the adoptable pets share similar qualities and activities. They reflect on how adoptable pets are unique, smart, loving, proud, and happy as are the children who adopt them. It beautifully illustrates how these loving animals dream of attaining compassionate homes and families of their own. The school plans to use the $2,500 grant to enhance the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum by purchasing supplies which will include books for the Mutt-i-grees libraries and supplemental resource materials to be used in the preschool centers. The funds will also be used help to organize and develop campaigns for pet adoptions and donations to local animal shelters.

Students from the Arch Ford Early Educational Program in Conway, AR pose during their winning visit with Early Educational Director Judy Clay, Scooby-Doo, Publishers Clearing House representatives Laura Derr and Brooke O'Keefe and Devera Lynn from NSALA.

Second Graders from Eagle Crest Elementary School in Longmont, CO entered the contest with their teacher, Chelsea Hammond. Their video, “Mutt-i-gree Mystery Gang!” addresses the mystery of “why more people don’t adopt from shelters.” It features photographs of families from their school who have adopted their own Mutt-i-grees. One student narrator explains, that by adopting a shelter animal, “these families add new memories.” Memories that will last a lifetime and save a life. As one narrator explains, “In school we learn that firefighters and policemen are heroes. We want you to know that people who adopt dogs or cats from a shelter are heroes too.” Their case wraps up with the conclusion that “there is no good reason not to adopt from a shelter!” They will use the grant to purchase technological materials in order to boost the emphasis on technology in the classroom.

Teacher Chelsea Hammond and her Second Grade class at Eagle Crest Elementary School are joined by Devera Lynn of NSALA, Rep. Jonathan Kerr, Scooby-Doo, Laura Derr of Publishers Clearing House and Area 2 Assistant Superintendent Mark Mills.

At Eastern Suffolk BOCES Brookhaven Technical Center, in Bellport, NY, a collaborative effort between 11th and 12th grade students from Lisa Mongiello’s Animal Science class and Mark Deedy’s TV Production class led to their First Place win. Their video, “Why Muttigrees?” takes on some of the myths and stereotypes surrounding shelter animals. Its question and answer format aims to set the record straight. They help dispel myths that shelter animals are any less desirable than pets that can be bought in a pet store or from a breeder. Their message makes a strong case that adopting a Mutt-i-gree from a shelter is evidently the best choice. Brookhaven Technical Center plans to use their grant to enhance the experience of their Animal Science students by purchasing some of the items necessary to begin neutering. The teachers would like to set up a clinic that would allow a local vet to come in and do neutering for the community.

The students of Brookhaven Technical Center and teachers Lisa Mongiello and Mark Deedy are surprised with their First Prize winning visit.

The contest was open to all accredited schools that teach children in Pre-K – 12th grades. The PSAs were judged by a panel of experts from Animal League America, Publishers Clearing House and Warner Bros. , as well as celebrities Cesar Millan and Renee Felice Smith. Entries were based on originality, creativity, sincerity and persuasiveness.

The national Second Place winners were The Family Resource Center, from East Haven, CT winning the Pre-k – K category; Fenton Charter School from Lake View Terrace, CA won the 1st – 5th grade category and Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical Arts High School from Camden, NJ won the 6th – 12th grade category.

The Fenton Primary Center from Lake View Terrace, CA, took Third Prize in the Pre-k – K category. Vogel-Wetmore School in Torrington, CT won Third Prize for the 1st – 5th grade category and Brien McMahon High School won Third Prize for the 6th – 12th grade category.

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