In the St. Lucie County School District, Project Citizen is a seventh grade county-wide competition in which students identify a problem within the community, brainstorm and research possible solutions, create a public policy to solve the problem, and develop a plan of action for implementation.
During the general election year of 2012, Dan McCarty Middle School of St. Lucie County won the state finals of the Project Citizen competition on May 24 in West Palm Beach, where the culmination of the nearly year-long effort by the class to identify and problem-solve a community public policy issue came full circle. After establishing a plan of action for the project, students began accomplishing the objectives of their plan. Dan McCarty's winning team project was entitled, "Vote to Make Fort Pierce Better: Voting Counts". This was a most timely project with 2012 being an election year and all efforts focused on increased voter participation.
Now in 2014, students in Hillary Cruz’s class at Palm Pointe Educational Research School @ Tradition recently won the first place award at the St. Lucie County School District’s Project Citizen Showcase and are poised to bring the state honor back to St. Lucie County again. Students selected the problem of puppy mills, or breeders who neglect and abuse mothers and puppies for the sake of profit, and the lack of legislation at the state level. Florida is one of few states in our country that does not have a law to regulate commercial breeders, instead relying on the federal Animal Welfare Act, enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which only applies to two kennels within the state.
Throughout their research, students of Palm Pointe met and discussed federal legislation and enforcement with Dr. Gaj (manager of the southeastern region of the USDA) and received letters of support for their proposed bill from both Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. Students will now continue to the next level in the competition, in which their portfolio will be displayed in the rotunda of the Capitol building in Tallahassee this spring. Another round of judging will occur, in which ten of the top projects from across the state will be selected to move on to the state level of competition, taking place in Orlando this May.
A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects.
Some puppy mill puppies are sold to pet shops—usually through a broker, or middleman—and marketed as young as eight weeks of age. The lineage records of puppy mill dogs are often falsified. Other puppy mill puppies are sold directly to the public, including over the Internet, through newspaper ads, and at swap meets and flea market
See Photo of Palm Pointe students: Pictured, from left, are front row, Chris Skubish, Christina Wagner, Mia Kirchner, and Tyler Edwards. Back row, from left, are Sarahi Fraga, Julia Pacek, Annalisa Albert and teacher Hillary Cruz.
REF: Lucie Links Newsletter (SLCSD) Feb. 2014