The first recipients of an award created in memory of a special person should be the people who most closely match the award’s core criteria and possess those qualities that made the award’s namesake extraordinary.
Patti Rose Scheimer Bednarik was the founder and first chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee and a leader in animal law reform. Her energy and enthusiasm were contagious and boundless. She had a keen legal mind, an indomitable spirit and a consuming passion and compassion for animals and devoted her time, talent and expertise to advocating, educating and volunteering to ensure the better treatment of animals.
This year’s recipients of the Patti Rose Scheimer Bednarik Memorial Scholarship, Megan Alley, a 2016 graduate of Penn State Dickinson School of Law, and Madison Bierley, a second year law student at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, fit the mold. Like Patti Bednarik, both have demonstrated a lifelong passion and commitment safeguarding animals.
Animal advocacy has been an important part of Megan Alley’s life from an early age. She joined the local 4-H dog chapter to learn more about her family’s Aussie, and by high school was mentoring with local veterinarians, volunteering for as many animal welfare events as she could find, and working with Columbia County Animal Response Team (CART) to establish an emergency animal shelter at the local area high school so dogs, cats, ferrets, hamsters and other furry animals would have a safe place to go in times of disaster. In law school Ms. Alley gained hands-on experience advocating for animals. She worked with the Pennsylvania State Director for the Humane Society and participated in the annual Humane Lobby Day, speaking with legislators about critical animal welfare legislation. Her 1L and 2L unpaid summer internships were spent with the Humane Society of the United States, working with the Animal Cruelty Prosecution unit learning firsthand the great extent to which animals are neglected, abused and forgotten by individuals and the legal system. In her final year at Dickinson, she received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award for her outstanding performance and high marks in the study of Animal Law.
A pet owner since the age of six, Madison Bierley’s lifelong commitment to animals and animal welfare started when she was a junior in high school, interning for an attorney who was working to close down one of Pennsylvania’s infamous puppy mills. The experience ignited a passion to investigate the mistreatment of animals, to become involved in animal protection activities and to pursue a legal education so as to become the best animal advocate possible. Now a second year law student, she is vice president of the Villanova Law School Animal Defense Fund Student Chapter and is interning with the Humane Society of the United States in the Federal Legislative Affairs Department where she conducts legal research on a variety of laws and regulations, attends hearings, briefings and meetings on Capitol Hill, and mobilizes the membership on key legislative initiatives. Moreover, she has been selected to be a leader at “Taking Action for Animal Lobby Day,” a national conference for animal advocacy that teaches individuals how to become citizen lobbyists.
The Patti Rose Scheimer Bednarik Memorial Scholarship Fund was created by Patti’s husband Joseph Bednarik in 2014, to celebrate Patti’s life and life’s work of protecting animals, reforming the state’s animal laws and mentoring those who chose to use their law degrees to ensure better treatment for animals. The fund supports the annual award of a $5,400 scholarship to a law school student who pursues an interest in animal welfare as part of his/her daily activities and legal training or a $5,400 grant to a young lawyer who pursues an interest in animal welfare as part of his/her daily activities, law practice or pro bono activity. When more than one applicant is deemed deserving, the $5,400 scholarship may be divided equally between no more than two applicants.
Each year on May 21 (Patti’s birthday), the Fund begins to solicit applications from Pennsylvania residents enrolled in law schools across the county, non-Pennsylvania residents attending an accredited Pennsylvania law school and Pennsylvania lawyers in practice less than three years. The applicants’ volunteer service to animal welfare organizations, scholarship in the field of animal law and animal welfare and, for practicing attorneys, pro bono legal work in the field of animal welfare are carefully weighed and considered by the Foundation’s Scholarship Committee.
The next application period will open on May 21, 2017 through July 1, 2017. Click here for additional information about the fund and the scholarship/grant initiative. Click here and here to learn more about Patti Rose Scheimer Bednarik. Click here to make a tax deductible contribution to the fund or here to download a mail-in contribution form.