TROY public relations students hope to provide makeover for Pike animal shelter

Posted: Tuesday, 01 April 2008

TROY - “Bus Driver, move that bus!” Fans of ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover program are familiar with these words uttered each week by the show’s host, Ty Pennington, and Troy University public relations students hope to hear those words in Troy.

While the students aren’t looking to surprise any human occupants, they do hope to make a difference for stray animals. After seeing first-hand the poor conditions of the Pike County animal shelter as part of a class project, the class decided to make a video appeal to the show.

Each spring semester, public relations students in Donna Schubert’s Advanced Public Relations Tactics class take on a “client” and this year’s pick was the Troy Animal Shelter Coalition, a group formed in 2006 with the aim of building a new animal shelter in the county.

"Right now, the shelter is in terrible condition," said Cherisa Barton, a public relations student from Ozark. "The city does what they can to keep it maintained, but there is definitely plenty of work to do before the county has a sufficient shelter.”

Shubert said that although the animal shelter may rank high on her personal list of worthy causes, it’s the students’ education she has in mind.

“My interest is in seeing the students get great experience and in seeing the client leave the project with materials and plans that can be realistically implemented. I always select a client that can genuinely benefit from the students’ work and investment in the project,” she said.

"I try every day to teach my students to dream a little bigger and to use their initiative and talents to make good things happen," said Schubert. "When my students told me of their idea of a video for Extreme Home Makeover, and when I saw what an investment they were making in the effort to build an animal shelter to serve our community, I realized that they were the ones teaching me this lesson."

Providing input and ideas, students are able to put their imaginations to work to help the client while, at the same time, gaining valuable hands-on experience in public relations.

"The experience we are gaining from this class is something I will never forget," said Barton. "We are seeing benefits from our effort now, which provides a better idea of what we will be doing in the future."