Success Stories

Student advocates for animals

For two years Lena Spadacene toyed with the idea of starting an animal advocacy group at Grand Valley. Today the organization that she and a friend established has more than 200 members. 

As president of The Humane Society of Grand Valley, Spadacene leads a group of students who are raising awareness. They are active in local and national non-profits, and local, state and federal animal legislation. They have worked with Campus Dining on an initiative to make Grand Valley Michigan’s first university to exclusively serve cage-free eggs.

Spadacene received a Student Leadership Award from the Humane Society of the United States, which recognizes students who have made substantial progress in reducing animal suffering and advancing animal welfare on their campuses in 2010.

“To receive national recognition is an honor, but I’m more excited about the concept of a cage-free campaign receiving institution-level acknowledgement,” said Spadacene. “It’s one thing to buy cage-free eggs at the store once in a while, but it’s another thing for 1.4 millions eggs a year to be purchased from hens that aren’t subject to cages so small they hardly have the room to turn around.”
 
Spadacene’s passion for animal advocacy began when she attended a conference in 2007. “My interest in the welfare of farm animals came on like a tidal wave - unexpected and powerful.”

When she was 18 years old, her aunt, also an advocate for the fair treatment of animals, invited her to a national animal advocacy conference in Washington, D.C. “By the end of the weekend I had learned so much about the detrimental conditions of factory farming that I was more than eager to swear off all meat from future meals. The conference changed my life,” she said.

A native of Midland, Spadacene will graduate in May 2011 with degrees in psychology and biology. She has plans to pursue a master’s and possibly a doctorate degree in biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture or animal cognition, and work for a national animal protection non-profit.

“My mom and aunt have shared their love of animals and instilled in me early that all life is worth considering, regardless of the ‘worth’ our society places on each species,” she said.

by Leah Twilley