APPA Pet Poetry Contest Celebrates Young Writers
The Third Annual American Pet Products Association Poetry Contest is reaching out to young poets for submissions about the joys of pet ownership.
Summer vacation is still in full swing, but the American Pet Products Association (APPA) has a special assignment for third, fourth and fifth graders and pet lovers across the country: write a poem about the joys of pet ownership, and stand to win a $250 gift certificate, a $1,000 classroom pet-education education scholarship and national circulation of your poems.
The Third Annual APPA National Children’s Pet Poetry Contest officially launches on Aug. 1, and runs through the end of January, during which Bob Vetere, APPA President, expects to receive at least 1,000 submissions.
The contest has grown considerably since it first launched in 2008, when around 600 students from 10 to 15 states sent in their poems – last year, that number nearly doubled, with representation from all 50 states.
Vetere says enthusiasm for the project is widespread, as students all vie for a chance to express their love for their pets, in both comical and sometimes heart-breaking ways. The steady trend of youth participation works against a study that the APPA conducted several years ago, revealing that young people stand to become less engaged in the pet industry within the next 10 years.
“A lot of our contact now is very interpersonal. In my generation, we didn’t have Twitter or texting or anything like that,” Vetere said. “You can play with a virtual pet online, but once you experience an actual pet and the unconditional love it gives, we believe that that will stay with kids, and make them more likely to become pet owners as adults.”
The goal of this initiative was to reach out to these young students, Vetere says, while also encouraging schools to incorporate pet ownership into their classroom settings more, by getting a class pet, for instance.
“We wanted to encourage them to consider the positive impact animals can have on their lives and the response we have got to that is amazing,” he continued.
The winning poems selected last year – six in total, two from each targeted grade – reveal passion for animals and early sparks of creative talent.
“My pet is a favorite/of everyone around/When she falls asleep/She makes a disturbing sound,” wrote prize-winning fourth-grader Kate, of West Chester, Pennsylvania. “It starts with a sigh/Then goes to a snort/It sounds like a plane/Landing at an airport.”
Fifth-grader Spring, from Lincoln, Delaware, showed pets’ ability to help grieving owners heal in her winning poem, “My Dog, Bear.”
“When my sister died/You comforted me/You miss her too/It’s plain to see,” the poem reads. “When I’m lonely/Or I need a friend/You’re always there/Your love to lend.”
This year’s batch of poems will be judged on creativity, clarity, voice, and the poet’s ability to reinforce the benefits of pet ownership.
“Last year, from the poems that made it to the finals, there was passion there,” Vetere said. “These kids weren’t just writing something to write it. They really understood, and expressed, the bond between kids and their pets.”
Winners will be announced at the APPA’s annual pet trade show in March 2011, and as happened last year, selected poets may have the chance to read their poems aloud there.
“Her parents were beaming just as much as she was,” Vetere said of the young poet’s reading.
Aside from the $250 gift certificate for pet products each winner receives, students’ classrooms will also benefit from $1,000 each, designated to go toward pet education in some fashion.
To learn more about APPA’s National Children’s Pet Poetry Contest, visit www.petsaddlife.org or contact Kerry Sutherland at MassMedia, 775.322.0755 or Kerry@massmediacc.com.
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