We are proud to introduce our latest pack of 13 dedicated Mutt-i-grees National Student Ambassadors determined to make a difference in their communities through projects that raise awareness and resources for animals in need. They have lots of fresh ideas, and are committed to using their energy to spread the Mutt-i-grees messages of kindness, empathy and teamwork.
Our Ambassadors come from our most active and involved Mutt-i-grees schools and MUTTS Clubs (acronym for Motivated Understanding Thoughtful Teenage Students) across the country — in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, Oklahoma and California. They will spend their year as National Student Ambassadors developing and implementing personal service learning projects, organizing fundraisers to help their local shelters, and taking leadership roles in their local MUTTS Clubs supporting animals. We are excited to help them realize their goals and expand the Mutt-i-grees mission!
Meet The Ambassadors
Myleen Acevedo (age 8, 3rd grade)
Fenton Charter Leadership Academy, Sun Valley, CA
This is Myleen’s second year as a Student Ambassador, and counselor Toni Frear says that she was instrumental in helping the school use Mutt-i-grees lessons on the playground. Myleen always makes it a priority to befriend students that may not have many friends, and treat everyone with kindness. She is a member of the Kindness Crew and the Caring Kids group at her school, helping orchestrate donation collections for the local animal shelter.
Gracie Burnside (age 12, 7th grade)
Curtis Inge Middle School, Noble, OK
Gracie is a very active MUTTS Club member, where she worked on many animal adoption events, including Puppies, Pies & Poetry, Shelter Reading Buddies, Kitten Bowl, Animal Welfare Expo and Shelter Sunday. She loves animals and hopes to become a veterinarian, and being in the MUTTS Club has given her the chance to work with some great role models. She plans to represent Mutt-i-grees “with honor and continue the mission of raising awareness of the needs of shelter pets” in her role as National Student Ambassador.
Olivia Casey (age 12, 7th grade)
Curtis Inge Middle School, Noble, OK
Along with her best friend Gracie Burnside, Olivia is excited to be a member of the MUTTS Club. Her favorite MUTTS Club event was Shelter Sunday. The club “meets at our local shelter and produce videos featuring cats that need to be adopted. These videos are then posted to social media so we can raise awareness of the shelter pets waiting for their forever home.” Thanks to her involvement in MUTTS Club working closely with veterinarians, Olivia is confident she has what it takes to be a veterinarian when she grows up. As a National Student Ambassador, she is excited to take a leadership role in raising awareness of animal issues in her community.
Rosie Ferrell (age 17, 11th grade)
Cascia Hall Preparatory School, Tulsa, OK
Rosie is a dynamic animal activist who believes that “good intentions and warm feelings are important, but supporting animals is an ongoing process, one that takes continuous time and effort.” She has been a volunteer with the Tulsa Humane Society for five years, serving in a variety of roles, from walking the dogs to working at many fundraisers. Rosie has started a videography club at her high school to raise awareness of the struggles and needs of Tulsa’s shelter animals by creating cool videos and an Instagram page to help get them adopted. She is planning several great fundraisers, including a 5k Walk/Run for owners and dogs with a “Kiss for a Cause” photo booth where she will take cute pictures of all the racers and their dogs. She also has a dog wash in the works, with all proceeds going to Tulsa non-profits that support animals. Rosie wants to become a veterinarian or marine biologist, and will continue to volunteer for animals both locally and on trips abroad.
Ragan Fletcher (age 18, 12th grade)
Bixby Central Intermediate, Bixby, OK
This will be Ragan’s 4th year as a National Student Ambassador, and she is excited to lead her school’s active MUTTS Club, organizing fundraisers to benefit the no-kill Tulsa Humane Society. They host a very successful annual pet supply drive at her school, and came up with a new bake sale fundraiser this year selling dog and people treats. They will also participate for a second year in the local Christmas parade, walking local shelter dogs to showcase the wonderful animals available for adoption. Ragan realizes the importance of humane education and is proud of the impact the 100-member MUTTS Club she founded has on getting shelter pets adopted.
Madison French (age 16, 11th grade)
Volunteer at Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk, CT
In her work as a Mutt-i-grees volunteer at Stepping Stones, Madison sees first-hand every week the impact the program has on both children and adults. “It’s so fun to watch little toddlers meeting a dog for the first time, or even veterans who have come to Mutt-i-grees many times.” Through her volunteering, Madison has overcome shyness and enjoys pushing herself to accomplish her goals. Youth program manager Dod March says, “Mutt-i-grees is a natural fit for her as she is a strong advocate for animal adoption and socializing rescue animals with children. She has been at the forefront, helping to lead young visitors in learning how to make friends with dogs. The visiting dogs, who are most often up for adoption at Norwalk PAWS, always seem to find her and feel safe with her.”
Gabriel Gutierrez (age 13, 8th grade)
MS88 Peter Rouget, Brooklyn, NY
School librarian Kyra Wolfe says that Gabriel is reliable and trustworthy, as well as being devoted to animals. Gabriel loves working with animals, and gets lots of practice working with Petey, his school’s very own Mutt-i-gree! His goals for the upcoming year include organizing community projects to help “get lots of dogs adopted. It’s great for people to interact with animals, and this is the perfect program to do that.”
Anna Hoffman (age 14, 9th grade)
Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk, CT
Anna has been a volunteer and youth leader at Stepping Stones for four years, but has recently gotten very involved in the Mutt-i-grees program. Anna brings her rescue dog, a yellow lab/pit bull mix named Hoffman, to Mutt-i-grees programs at the museum and shares his story of rescue to show other adoptees the value and desirability of shelter pets. Anna is looking forward to taking a leadership role in the museum’s Mutt-i-grees program as a National Student Ambassador.
Victoria Landreville (age 13, 8th grade)
Schuyler-Colfax Middle School, Wayne, NJ
Tori has been a member of her school’s MUTTS Club for three years, and never misses a meeting. Teacher Lisa Klink says, “Tori helps students of all ability levels participate in club activities, and is first to help the shelter bring animals to and from the parking lot when they visit” the school. Tori is proud to have the opportunity to lead the animal shelter donation drive this year as a National Student Ambassador, to show other kids they can really make a difference in their communities.
McKinney Meek (age 16, 10th grade)
Paul Blazer High School, Ashland, KY
Mac is president of his school’s Mutt-i-grees Youth Board, and is proud to be honored as a National Student Ambassador for a second year. Last year Mac worked with no-kill shelter Ashland Animal Rescue Fund (AARF) to raise awareness, and organized Mutt-i-grees Light Up Our Lives, a fundraiser honoring shelter animals past and present. He also participated in NSALA’s annual Tour for Life when it visited Ashland for a very successful adoption event. Mac is excited to continue promoting humane education and orchestrating fundraisers for AARF in 2018!
Skylie Molina (age 10, 5th grade)
Fenton Charter STEM Academy, Sun Valley, CA
Skylie enjoys taking part in service learning projects in her community. She was an important member of the team for the Los Angeles East Valley Animal Shelter donation collection, supplying all the classrooms with collection boxes and organizing donations. She is a member of her school’s Kind Companions, who promote kindness during recess by lending a hand when someone is hurt, giving compliments, and helping students who are upset or alone and need someone to play with. Skylie is also excited to take a larger role in the Spring Mutt-i-grees Fundraiser and Tour for Life this year as a National Student Ambassador.
Aidan Senior (age 12, 8th grade)
MS88, Brooklyn, NY
Aidan wants to help people who don’t think they want a dog understand that the “benefits and adventures outweigh the problems.” His three goals this year are to “help people warm up to dogs, get better at connecting with dogs, and teach others to take good care of dogs.” School librarian Kyra Wolfe says Aidan is a great leader, is very conscientious, and is looking forward to a leadership opportunity where he can shine.
Chris Shillinglaw (age 17, 12th grade)
Volunteer at Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk, CT
Chris has a background in handling dogs, and understands how they behave in groups and engage people’s emotions. Chris also knows about overcoming obstacles — two years ago he broke his back, so he is focused on getting stronger so he can achieve his collegiate goals. He is excited to use his passion for dogs as a National Student Ambassador, working with visitors at Mutt-i-grees events, where he has the nickname the “Dog Whisperer.” Youth program manager Dod March says, “he bonds with every dog he meets, including those who are initially nervous. Chris has introduced his rescue dog, a true Mutt-i-grees mix named Robin, to the program, and has shared his story of rescue to inspire other potential adoptee