Heritage Team: Bright Minds Presenting the Past, Dreaming of the Future
By Carol Weemes
Posted on February 27, 2018, February 27, 2018

Heritage Team: Bright Minds Presenting the Past, Dreaming of the Future

First through third place Heritage Team winners shown with Chris Huff, Animal Services Manager and Dennis Finigan, Animal Services Heritage Team Coordinator/Lead Volunteer.


Dreams are coming true for students in the Arlington Animal Services Heritage Team Program. This year's members were awarded $1,400 in scholarship funds for their year-long commitment of volunteering at the Animal Services Center and diligent participation in a contest meant to inspire and educate on African-American heritage.

The Heritage Team was stirred by special guest speaker at the presentations event, John Self, who 45 years ago became the City's first African-American firefighter. Self celebrates many distinguished lifetime achievements, including becoming TXU/Oncor's first male African-American vice president in 2004, until his retirement in 2008, as a direct report to the company's chairman.

"Two years ago, when I participated, I didn't place. This year I came mentally prepared to represent Frederick Douglass well, and win," said Aaron Boone. His thorough preparation paid off, when he was presented with the first-place award on the 17th of February.

Congratulations to this year's Heritage Team for all the winning presentations:

  • 1st Place - Aaron Boone - presented on Frederick Douglass, awarded $500;
  • 2nd Place - Zoee Ivory - presented on Positive Tupac, awarded $400;
  • 3rd Place - Heather van Waasbergen - presented on George Washington Carver, awarded $300;
  • 4th Place - Asia Johnson - presented on Jesse Owens, awarded $200.

Every student participating in the program came away a winner.

"These bright young minds are the planet's and the animals' future," said Special Assistant to the C.E.O. of SPCA of Texas, and Director of Strategic Initiatives, Linda Yarbrough.

The Heritage Team presentations dovetailed perfectly into the Black History Month Festival celebration of African-American history and culture held on February 25 at Arlington's Southeast Branch Library, emceed by Animal Services Manager Chris Huff. Boone delivered his winning presentation in the line-up of special events held at the tribute.

"The reward of working with these students is indescribable as I watch them grow from the beginning of the program to the day of the presentations," Huff said.

Registration for the 2018-2019 program begins on the first of June. Those currently in junior high or high school interested in joining the Arlington Animal Services Heritage Team should email Chris.Huff@ArlingtonTX.gov, or call 817-459-6269.

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