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June 24, 2011

The HSUS Awards Scholarship to Newport, R.I. High School Student

The Humane Society of the United States is proud to announce that Danielle Snodgrass of Rogers High School is the recipient of its 46th annual Shaw-Worth Memorial Scholarship. The HSUS presents this award each year to a New England high school senior in recognition of significant work in the field of animal protection. Snodgrass will receive a $2,500 scholarship for her studies in marine biology at Florida Southern College.

“Danielle’s commitment to dolphins is remarkable,” said Heidi O’Brien, director of student outreach for The HSUS. “Her passion for them shines through extensive hours of volunteer work and research on their populations. She is a true protector of marine animals and their environment.”

After volunteering for the Wild Dolphin Foundation in Hawaii, Danielle had a transformative experience. Having a father who was deployed in Iraq, and moving many times, she had a hard time adjusting to all of the changes in her life. The time spent with the Spinner Dolphins gave her a sense of peace and belonging as well as several new “best friends.” She observed their intelligence and unique and recognizable characteristics, such as one dolphin with an overbite who she called, “Jaws.”

Danielle saw these creatures as more than just tourist attractions and began research on the dolphin population. While working on a research boat for the Wild Dolphin Foundation, Danielle discovered a problem within the dolphin tourism industry. The boat operator she worked with was careful not to disturb the dolphins or allow swimmers in the water to observe them during rest periods. However she found that many tour operators are not as respectful. Her studies led her to find a proportionate decrease in dolphin visitation to their normal resting grounds, due to the increase in tourism.

“I would frequently observe many irresponsible tour operators dumping dozens of tourists in the water on top of dolphin pods, forcing the dolphins out of their preferred resting ground,” said Danielle. “If they do not get proper resting time, how can they hunt, fight off predators, or nurse and take care of their calves?”

Snodgrass completed 1,344 hours of volunteer work and a project on The Effects of Tourism on the Wild Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins of the Leeward Coast of Oahu. She will continue her research in the hopes that it will spur local governments to regulate dolphin resting grounds to conserve the Hawaiian coastline by protecting the near shore dolphins that play a significant role in the ecosystem. 

“I intend to be a strong voice for preserving the balance of nature so that future generations can have the same experiences as I have had,” said Snodgrass.

Admiral James Shaw and his wife Elizabeth established the Shaw-Worth Memorial Scholarship in 1965 to honor the family's strong belief in compassionate treatment of animals and the importance of humane education. Admiral Shaw was instrumental in developing the youth education division of The HSUS and served as the director of The HSUS New England Regional Office.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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