Village Elementary Nabs Award for Helping Duck Family

TeachKind, PETA's Humane-Education Division, Recognizes School and Retired Teacher's 13 Years of Making Way for Ducklings

For Immediate Release:
May 11, 2016

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Hartland, Mich. – Every spring for the last 13 years, Vanessa the duck has dug a nest and laid her eggs in the courtyard at Hartland’s Village Elementary School—and every year, after the ducklings have hatched, now-retired teacher Ruth Darrah has led staff in taping off the corridors and allowing Vanessa to lead her family safely through the school’s hallways to an outside pond.

In recognition of this 13-year legacy of kindness to ducks, TeachKind—PETA’s humane-education division—is sending a Compassionate Action Award to Village Elementary School and a Hero to Animals Award to Darrah.

“Village Elementary School is a remarkably kind place where this mother duck has felt safe enough to raise her family for more than a decade,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Outreach and Campaigns Marta Holmberg. “PETA and TeachKind are recognizing the school and Ruth Darrah for teaching kids that animals have feelings and want to protect their families, just as we do—and that’s a lesson of empathy that will last a lifetime.”

In addition to protecting Vanessa and her ducklings as they travel through the school, the Village Elementary staff leaves the courtyard untouched for as long as she is nesting there. The grass goes unmowed, and curious schoolkids can watch Vanessa quietly through the courtyard windows.

PETA and TeachKind—whose mottos read, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—are available to send humane-education materials to schools, suggest lesson plans, and even host classroom presentations for students via Skype, all for free.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind