The Arch Ford Education Cooperative Early Educational Program in Conway was first place winner in the Pre-K and Kindergarten category of the 3rd Annual Mutt-i-grees "America Adopts" PSA Contest.

As first prize winner, the school received a $2,500 educational grant for their PSA. The check was presented during a recent surprise visit from the Publisher’s Clearing House prize patrol, Scooby-Doo and the Mutt-i-grees team at the school.

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’s Pet Savers Foundation and funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation.

This year, students incorporated Scooby-Doo into their PSA entries.

The first prize winners are made up of a group of Pre-K students from The Arch Ford early education childhood program, located within the Sallie Cone preschool in Conway, and in the Greenbrier ABC classroom.

Teachers Melanie Brindley and Melinda Smith and Early Educational Director Judy Clay assisted the students in producing the video, which presents a unique comparison of the positive qualities exhibited by both the students and the shelter animals.

The students’ PSA mirrored the curriculum’s core values: fostering empathy, compassion, and responsible decision-making.

Students of the winning group included Naythan Saxton, Genesis Rodriguez, Trinitee Williams, Ceeli Smith, Michaela Kemp, Jadyn Love, Chaz Wright, Eulalio Torres Garcia, Dakalen Turner, Beibhinn Routh, Ava Corker, Isaac Guzman, Ava Schulze and Sydney Sevier.

The school plans to use the $2,500 grant to enhance the Mutt-i-grees curriculum by purchasing supplies, including books, for the Mutt-i-grees libraries and supplemental resource materials to be used in the preschool centers.

The funds will also be used to help organize and develop campaigns for pet adoptions and donations to local animal shelters.

The contest was open to schools that teach children in Pre-K through 12th grades. The PSAs were judged by a panel of experts from Animal League America, Publisher’s Clearing House, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and The Cesar Millan Foundation.

Entries were based on originality, creativity and persuasiveness. The PSA Contest is a nationwide initiative and collaboration of North Shore Animal League America, the Yale University School of the 21st Century and the Cesar Millan Foundation.

To learn more about the Mutt-i-grees curriculum, or to view all of the winning PSAs, visit

(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277 or by email at Follow us on Twitter @meganpreynolds, @LCDonline.)