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Students author books to assist local nonprofit center

Students in a spring semester English class have published two children’s books and a coffee table book to help support The Conservators' Center, a nonprofit exotic wildlife sanctuary in North Carolina's Caswell County.

Led by assistant professor Rebecca Pope-Ruark, the course in the Professional Writing and Rhetoric concentration worked with staff at the Mebane, N.C.-based Center to develop concepts and collect information on the animals featured within the books.

“This was something I felt I could help the Center do while also creating an amazing experience for students,” Pope-Ruark said. “Students know they’re contributing to something special.”

Their finished products - Arthur Tiger Meets Kira Lion, Mitzi and Ruffian Learn a Lesson, and Symbiosis – will raise money for, and awareness of, the Conservators’ Center. The service-learning class spent time researching not only the Center’s history, but also the relationship its supporters have with their “adopted” animals, and the audience to which the books are targeted.

Symbiosis and Arthur Tiger Meets Kira Lion go on sale June 12 at the Center’s annual auction fundraiser in Raleigh. Mitzi and Ruffian Learn a Lesson will be published this fall. Each of the children’s books was written at the third grade level and will be sold for $10. The coffee table book is priced at $60.

Copies of the books may also be purchased directly from The Conservators’ Center or through the online bookstore via the Center’s website, www.conservatorscenter.org, starting June 12.

“The kids came out and toured, interviewed people, followed up and emailed people, really spending time talking with the folks who work here and support us,” said Mindy Stinner, co-founder of The Conservators’ Center. “I think they reflected that beautifully in the manuscripts. I’m so excited for the people who have been involved in this process to see the final products.”

Students expressed similar enthusiasm for the books. Kasey Thornton, an English major from Wendell, N.C., said she enrolled in Pope-Ruark’s course after seeing flyers that advertised the Center. What she found in her studies goes beyond a love of animals.

“You learn a lot about rhetorical skills. You learn how to write for an audience. You learn how to write fundraising materials,” Thornton said. “You also learn about service, that it’s not always about putting on a T-shirt and blue jeans and getting dirty.

“Everyone has talents and skills they can put to use to help others. It doesn’t always involving getting dirty.”

Eric Townsend,
6/9/2010 11:27 AM