FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              CONTACT:     Bonnie Kirstein
558-5300 ext. 230


Tampa, FL (May 27, 2009) – The Tampa Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa (PDK), the premier professional association for educators, in concert with the Hillsborough County School District, recently completed their first fundraising contest event for students called “PDKats.” 

According to Dr. Jacquelyn Masters, Principal of Seminole Elementary School and President of PDK, the program has two goals:  “The first goal is to enhance the interest of the students in learning about wild animals and foster their compassion for these magnificent creatures by having them feel the personal satisfaction of raising funds to feed these rescued big cats. The second is to support a wonderful area nonprofit organization that has, for many years, provided our students with a totally unique educational experience.”

The month long contest, held in April, was open to all of the schools in Hillsborough County and was chaired by Bonnie Kirstein of Davidsen Middle School and co-chaired by Katey Runey of Farnell Middle School.  The goal for each school was to raise $250, the approximate cost of feeding the lions and tigers at Big Cat Rescue for one day. At the final tally a total of $3,783.95 has been donated, which is equivalent to the cost of feeding one tiger or lion for one full year!

Each class that achieved the goal will be recognized on a sign outside Big Cat Rescue’s Trading Post for one year.  In addition to this special recognition, the students of the class raising the most money to feed the cats will receive free tour passes to the sanctuary. Big Cat Rescue will also film a special podcast of the winning students to post on the sanctuary’s YouTube channel, which is currently the 7th most watched non-profit channel.  The Teacher of the winning class and the Principal and Area Director of that school, as a reward for their efforts in promoting this educational experience, each receive a 3 day weekend in a Jaguar XF provided by Jaguar of Tampa and a 3 day/2 night stay for two on St. Pete Beach at the Sirata Beach Resort.  Both corporate sponsors are long time supporters of Big Cat Rescue.

The winning teacher was David Nelson from the PE Department at Davidsen Middle School, whose class raised $1,400.  Brent McBrien, Principal of Davidsen, and Area 2 Director, Jerry Jackson were the other winners, but Mr. Jackson opted to defer his prizes to one of his other teachers, who he felt did the footwork in this effort, Ms. Jani Rouse at Lomax Elementary.

“Education is a critical element of our mission at Big Cat Rescue,” said Education Director Beth Kamhi.  “On the over 70 school field trips to the sanctuary each year, students benefit by learning scientific facts that are made more meaningful and memorable by the feelings evoked when actually meeting these magnificent animals in person.  There is compelling evidence that learning compassion for animals as a child translates into compassion for people as an adult, and this opportunity for affective learning is extraordinary.  As students participate in donating to feed the animals, the PDKats program adds a dimension of direct involvement and pride, enriching the educational experience and emotional connection.  We are thrilled about this exciting collaboration with PDK and enhancement of our long time partnership with the Hillsborough County School District! We would like to offer our profound appreciation to Bonnie Kirstein for all her hard work coordinating this event, and to PDK and the Hillsborough students, teachers and staff.”

About PDK

PDK, the premier professional association for educators, was founded in 1906 and today has chapters across the United States and abroad. The association strives for educational excellence through a wide range of innovative initiatives.  These include providing educators with information about current issues to promote dialog about which policies, ideology and methods to adopt.  PDK also works to connect members with the community and the school district through service projects and networking opportunities. The local chapter has participated in "Paint your heart out Tampa Bay," "Toys for Students" (a home grown project with the district's social workers to make sure all children have a gift for the holidays), and now the PDKats Program.  For further information on PDK visit www.pdkintl.org.

About Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit organization, provides a permanent home for abandoned, abused and orphaned exotic cats. Over 100 lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats and more reside at the astonishing 45 acre Citrus Park refuge, making it one of the largest sanctuaries in the world devoted to big cats.  Big Cat Rescue is located at 12802 Easy Street, across the street from the mall at Citrus Park. For further information on the sanctuary, please visit www.BigCatRescue.org, call 813.920.4130 or send an email inquiry to Info@BigCatRescue.org. 

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457


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This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
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