Animal Advocacy Club Arrives at FHC

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Gabi Dykema, Staff Writer

A variety of students in high spirits gathered in an open classroom after being relocated twice from where they had initially planned on meeting in the Pat Hartsoe’s room, known to most as the health room. Their spirits matched their unwavering dedication as they all passed the time together making posters to encourage students to join their animal advocacy club, a new club here at FHC that promotes animal-friendly options and healthy choices that support animal rights.

“I wanted to start this club because I’ve always had a passion for animals,” said sophomore Caroline Whyte, founder of the club. “I want to help the FHC student body choose animal friendly options, and perhaps maintain a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.”

To become a member, you don’t need to be a vegetarian or vegan, either; all you need to join is a positive attitude and a love of animals. While their first official club meeting may have been making posters to spread awareness about the club and to endorse animal rights, they plan on making a change by volunteering at animal shelters and fundraising charities that go to the fair treatment of animals and their rights. Teacher advisor of the club Pat Hartsoe may be a very active member of the animal rights community, but she plans on making the club more student-led and helping the students accomplish their own goals.

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Club members Joey Hartert, John Pynnonen, Jake Standerfer, and Josh Kooistra share a laugh while making a poster for the club.

“We have only had 2 meetings so far,” said Hartsoe. “The first was a “steering committee” of about 7 or 8 students, who shared ideas of what we hope to accomplish in our club.  The second meeting was open to anyone.  Students designed and made 4 or 5 posters to put around the school, giving information on when and where the meetings will take place.  Since the students are going to direct the content of the club, we will develop our activities as we go. We hope to fund-raise in a simple, easy way and to donate to local animal shelters, clinics, or The Humane Society.”

Members of the club hope to endorse alternatives to not just meat products but also products that harm animals in any way. Many members are recently vegetarian or vegan, or even meat eaters that are willing to taste test the vegan snack that is brought to every meeting and consider other alternatives similar to the snack. The aim of the snack is to show club members that they can still enjoy cheap and delicious foods while on a vegan diet, something that many who are considering veganism struggle with when changing their eating habits. Their first snack was Oreos and Chocolate Cashew milk, both tasty vegan snacks that can be found at low prices at any given grocery store.

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Oreos and Cashew Milk, the snack at the first club meeting.

“It just felt like the right thing to do morally,” said junior John Pynnonen, a kickstarter member of the club. “I recently became a vegetarian just to kinda try it out and, in the process, realized just how awful the process of getting animal based products and foods was. It’s a really mellow environment full of cool people who all share a similar passion and it’s very enjoyable.”

Another major aim of the animal advocacy club is that they encourage anyone interested in learning more about either changing personal habits, animal rights, or anything else related to keeping the environment better for us and animals to attend. Pat Hartsoe, who has been a  vegan for 9 years and, as she puts it, “all in” about animal rights for many more, also says that she and other members of the animal advocacy club “understand that in order to reach people with this information we need to be open and encouraging, not closed off and judgmental” and plan to use the knowledge that members have to serve as a wealth of information for anyone interested in learning more.

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A poster listing the benefits of eating less meat.

While the club will meet in room 153, Hartsoe’s health room, on Mondays from 3-4 after school, they plan on fundraising, donating, and volunteering at local animal shelters, clinics, and The Humane Society outside of the classroom. Wherever they decide to dedicate their passion towards animals, it will certainly be a first step for not only the club but FHC as well.

“If you are considering joining the club, please do,” Whyte said. “Don’t be afraid to join! Anybody is welcome. We have focused on making it a fun environment. Vegetarian, vegan, or not, it will be an enjoyable and welcome place.”