By Sue Moore
The Paws Fur Learning classroom in Vicksburg High School established the Madison Steffens Extraordinary Service award – and gave it Madison Steffens. The faculty member who established the award was Dr. Noni Heikes who teaches veterinary science as part of a countywide program located in the Vicksburg building.
Madison has spent this year as an example of service, saving the lives of dozens of cats and serving the community by reducing feline overpopulation and placing cats in homes, Heikes said. “That’s why I felt the award should be established in her name and that she should be the first recipient.”
This Madison Steffens award will be presented to students exhibiting outstanding commitment and service to the feline foster project. Names of future winners will be engraved on the plaque. Madison was presented with her own award as well.
“Our classroom is home to a feline foster project called Paws Fur Learning. Cats that enter shelters with medical needs or too poorly socialized to be adopted are typically euthanized. Paws Fur Learning brings these cats into the classroom, provides medical care, socialization and spaying or neutering, and cares for them until they find their forever homes,” Heikes said.
She is the founder of the program that is in its second year and is already being considered for replication in other animal science classrooms. “Steffens has provided extraordinary service to this project. She has taken on a leadership role with the cats, helping to schedule spays and neuters, coordinate intakes and adoptions, arranging for supplies and laundry, and coming in daily on school evenings, weekends and breaks to care for these cats.”
Steffens is shown here with the plaque that will record awardees through the years, and resident cat Kingsford – who incidentally is seeking a summer foster, preferably beachside with plenty of views of birds, Heikes said.