April 16, 2014
Lexington, Ky.

A student in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is one of three winners of the UK Sullivan Award, given to individuals who provide an outstanding humanitarian service.

Katharine E. Skarvan was selected to receive the Sullivan Award for the graduating senior woman. An animal science major, Skarvan was the founder as a freshman and the inaugural president of Wildcat Service Dogs (WSD) at the University of Kentucky. WSD is a student-run organization that trains service dogs for the benefit of disabled individuals.

With its goal to "help students to help dogs help people," WSD trains dogs to turn on lights, fetch phones, open refrigerators and perform other basic tasks that challenge their disabled owners.

Skarvan recruited and trained an 11-member officer team and negotiated with the UK legal office to allow the organization’s dogs to live in the dormitories and attend classes with their handlers.

She secured a State Farm community service grant to ensure the program's future success after she graduates, and her work has been featured on local television and in area newspaper coverage. WSD received the 2014 Outstanding Leadership Award from the UK chapter of ODK, the National Leadership Honor Society.

Currently training a dog for the Louisville nonprofit Paws with Purpose, Skarvan keeps the dog in Lexington every other week and on the off week drives him to the Kentucky Correctional Institution in Pee Wee Valley, where an inmate handler also trains him.

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