During Teen Read week at EHOVE Career Center, Davidson read to her class an except from the book "Rescuing Ladybugs," by award-winning journalist and author, Jennifer Skiff. The author lives in Australia.
Skiff has spent her much of her time traveling the world rescuing, advocating and raising funds for animals in need. Davidson said all the students in her class love animals and she felt “Rescuing Ladybugs” wasn’t only a good book, but a good fit for her students. And she was right.
“It made several girls cry,” Davidson said. “So I posted a comment on her (Skiff’s) Instagram, saying something like, I just wanted to say, ‘Hey I absolutely loved it and the girls absolutely loved it,’ and I didn’t really expect anything from it. But then much to my surprise, she (direct-messaged) me and said that she had been wanting to work with a class and since I contacted her first that she would like it to be mine.”
Skiff and the class emailed each other for several months about her experiences and passion for helping animals. Eventually too, on March 21, the class was able to meet their new international friend via Skype.
From those email communications and reading her book, the class was so motivated it started a “Santa Paws” drive throughout EHOVE. The drive encouraged all to donate needed items for the Huron County Humane Society. With the students’ zeal and passion behind it, the drive took off, resulting in more than four car loads of animal food, blankets, cleaning supplies and other needed items.
“She was such an inspiration to my students and her experiences were the inspiration behind my students’ drive,” Davidson said.
Skiff felt the same way.
”I am impressed by every single student in Mrs. Davidson’s class,” she told the Reflector.
“They are smart, intuitive young women who made a choice, early in their lives, to pursue careers of service. They all know where they’re heading and they’re honing their skills to make the world a better place. ... Now, they’re taking the message of the Compassion Movement — and I’m so proud of this — one step further by entering a statewide SkillsUSA competition with its message. As defined in ‘Rescuing Ladybugs,’ the Compassion Movement is the ‘collective quest to alleviate suffering for all forms of life.’”
The drive was mainly spearheaded by juniors Olivia Deemer, 16, and Maddie Bohn, 17, both of Huron High School; Desiree Bibb, 17, from Norwalk and Reece Linden, 17, from Edison.
“What stood out the most is how she traveled around the world and the passion she has about everything, helping as many animals as possible,” Deemer said. “And she taught us just because someone says you can’t do it — that just made her try harder to do it.”
“We didn’t just help animals at the shelter, we got everyone involved at the school,” Bohn said of the resulting project.
“We didn’t realize how much of an impact this could have on the lives of the animals and on others. There are 16 different schools that come here (to EHOVE) and so many different programs, but they all came together for (the Santa Paws project),” she added. “It brought awareness of how important animals are in all of our lives and the things they go through. And it brought us all together on a common ground.”
The effects of the visit don’t stop there though. The class is planning a 5K and dog walk for next school year to raise more awareness for the plighted animals and to raise funds for the humane society. They also intend to take Santa Paws project to the SkillsUSA competition, where Davidson said the girls have a good chance of making it to the national level.
SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It is a national organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations, including health occupations and for further education.
Davidson said Skiff told the class if the students make it to the national level of the competition she’d be willing to fly to the United States to attend and show her support.
The experience was so inspiring Deemer said she thinks she’s found the major she wants to pursue — either marine biology or zoology. She’s even selected her first-choice school to pursue the career at North Carolina State University.
“I want to make a difference. It was such a motivating visit,” she said.
Davidson said it was an especially valuable experience for the students to make the international connections.
“I think too especially in high school they haven’t had a lot of opportunities to experience something on the national level, let alone on an international level,” she said. “They see not only here, but around the world, how people live and the plight of animals — and not just cats and dog, it’s elephants and bears and orangutans.”
The students agreed.
“I feel like Jennifer made us realize one person have big impact,” Linden said. “She was in Australia and she had a big impact on us and that can grow. She’s impacting the world. She inspired Ms. Davidson and us too and we took that and inspired the entire school and our communities.”
“No matter if it’s a big or little thing ,it makes an impact,” Bibb added. “She really inspired me. No matter what it is, the little things count and add up over time. When you inspire one person, it keeps inspiring other people. Then more people can make a difference too.”
This isn’t the end of the road though. Skiff said she and the class have plans for the future as well.
“I’m in Australia now and head to Washington in a few weeks, to lobby on Capitol Hill for animals,” she said adding the students will soon join her in the same movement. “Later in the year, I’m hoping to meet the class in Washington. Together, we will work to create federal laws to help people and other animals.”