Students in Hillary Cruz’s class at Palm Pointe Educational Research School @ Tradition recently won the first place award at the St. Lucie County School District’s Project Citizen Showcase! Project Citizen is a seventh grade county-wide competition in which students identify a problem within the community, brainstorm and research possible solutions, create a public policy to solve the problem, and develop a plan of action for implementation. Students selected the problem of puppy mills, or breeders who neglect and abuse mothers and puppies for the sake of profit, and the lack of legislation at the state level. Florida is one of few states in our country that does not have a law to regulate commercial breeders, instead relying on the federal Animal Welfare Act, enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which only applies to two kennels within the state. Throughout their research, students met and discussed federal legislation and enforcement with Dr. Gaj (manager of the southeastern region of the USDA) and received letters of support for their proposed bill from both Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. Students will now continue to the next level in the competition, in which their portfolio will be displayed in the rotunda of the Capitol building in Tallahassee this spring. Another round of judging will occur, in which ten of the top projects from across the state will be selected to move on to the state level of competition, taking place in Orlando this May. Pictured, from left, are front row, Chris Skubish, Christina Wagner, Mia Kirchner, and Tyler Edwards. Back row, from left, are Sarahi Fraga, Julia Pacek, Annalisa Albert and teacher Hillary Cruz.