Taking Action: Ways To Get Started As A Student Activist

Cut Out Dissection From Your Classroom
Find classmates and teachers willing to offer alternatives to dissection by handing out the IDA Dissection Fact Sheet, presenting a talk and/or showing the PETA Classroom Cutups video to your science and ethics classes or general assembly, writing an editorial for your school newspaper, or posting a flyer on the school bulleting board asking for those interested in ending dissection to contact you. Be sure to identify yourself and give information on how you can be reached.

Make yourself a role model by refusing to dissect and inviting other students to follow your lead. Offer to assist students who want to refuse dissection but are hesitant to do so for fear of what might happen to them, such as receiving a lower grade, making enemies with a teacher, or losing friends. Invite them to the library or to your house one night a week to study science together. Getting together with a group can be a great way to study, especially if you borrow dissection alternatives (plastic models, transparencies, videos, CD-ROMs, etc.) from the Ethical Science Education Coalition (ESEC) at (617) 367-9143.

Share your secrets to success by bringing in to class the dissection alternatives that you and your group used to get that "A." Or pass an ESEC catalog to classmates and your teacher to give them an idea of just how many alternatives are available to them without charge.

Collect signatures on a petition to end dissection in your school by circulating petitions in class, at Parent-Teacher Association meetings, Meet the Teacher Night, after-school clubs, among your neighbors, at health food stores and local animal protection groups. Tangible support, such as a stack of petitions, for either ending dissection or introducing alternatives to it can be a persuasive argument for your teachers and your school principal. If it isn’t, contact newspapers and TV/radio news stations in your area.

For more background and resources on dissection, including information on student choice laws and how to get alternatives to dissection accepted in your school, please visit IDA’s dissection campaign pages.

Resources for becoming an activist

Cook Up A Veggie Cafeteria
Get vegetarian and vegan meal choices added daily to your cafeteria menu, and push for a meat-free day each week. Collect signatures of support on a petition by handing out Why Vegan and a petition form throughout the cafeteria and campus at lunch time. Ask vegetarian and vegan teachers to help get the word out by making a brief announcement about the cafeteria campaign at the beginning of their classes and by offering petitions on a table or counter near the classroom door.

Invite a nutritionist to speak to your school’s Parent-Teacher Association and school board about the multiple health benefits of vegetarianism and veganism (ask your local health or natural food store for recommendations).

Invite a local author, musician, athlete or celebrity who doesn’t eat meat to speak to your school’s general assembly about why he or she has chosen a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Offer to name the meat-free day, or cafeteria, on behalf of this inspiring person, and write up a special splash editorial in your school newspaper about the cafeteria campaign and the celebrity who is speaking in support of it.

Co-host a vegetarian/vegan bake sale for your school group’s fundraising and offer meat-free literature and the petition, along with tasty cruelty-free treats, on the bakery table. Sharing responsibilities is a great way to advertise your campaign and at the same time lessen the load of work on yourself or others. Or host your own bake sale as a means of introducing people to dairy free desserts, and offer proceeds to purchasing dissection alternatives.

For more background and resources on how to institute cruelty-free meals, please visit IDA’s veganism campaign pages.

Get the Blood Off Your Friends’ Hands
Introduce the simple steps to cruelty-free personal care to classmates and teachers by handing out the IDA Product Testing Fact Sheet and list of cruelty-free products. Find out if your school’s hand soap and cleaners are tested on animals, and if they are, circulate a petition demanding that your school switch to products that are not tested on animals.

Join the Procter & Gamble boycott and recruit others to do the same. Ask parents, classmates and teachers to buy "animal safe" products for their homes and to write letters to P & G asking for a halt to all their product testing on animals, as none of it is required by law.
Host a cruelty-free dog wash or car wash and set up a table nearby with samples of products that don’t test on animals and information about product testing on animals. Also have available your school petition for cruelty-free products. Proceeds can be used for—what else? Alternatives to dissection!

For more background and resources on cruelty-free products, including information on Procter & Gamble and how to find alternatives to their products, please visit IDA’s Boycott Procter and Gamble website.

Uncage the Animals
Speak out against captive animals in the classroom, animals brought in for school fundraising (circuses and petting zoos), animals used for agricultural lessons, and animals used as school mascots. Hand out IDA’s fact sheets on animals used in entertainment as well as "They Are Not Our Property" campaign materials to let others know that animals are individuals with interests, needs and rights of their own, and are not things to be used by humans. If your school offers donkey basketball or "Kiss the Pig" games, or participates in circuses, rodeos, or petting zoos, organize a group of students, parents and teachers to address the issue at school board meetings and Parent-Teacher Association meetings.

Boycott field trips and senior class trips to marine parks, zoos and aquariums and instead encourage students to choose education and entertainment not associated with animals held in exploitative captivity. For example, you may want to visit an amusement park that doesn’t keep animals, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, a sanctuary, or natural wildlife preserve.

Write an editorial or letter to the editor for your school newspaper and local newspaper discussing how you feel about animals exploited for profit and the negative message that exploitation sends to students.
For more background and resources on animals in entertainment, please visit IDA’s campaign pages.

Volunteer at a Shelter or Animal Protection Organization
You may also want to volunteer with an animal protection organization in your community. We urge you to visit IDA’s Youth Corps for Animals website. Here you will find listings for animal protection organizations around the world, and we hope that you will find the right match for your interests. Whether you are interested in volunteering at an animal sanctuary, doing field research on whales, organizing a circus reform campaign or assisting in spay/neuter clinics, you will find information on programs that you will find enriching and exciting.

Good luck with your activities! Please do not hesitate to contact In Defense of Animals to let us know what you are doing, and to get further information on how to take action in your school and community.

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