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February 8, 2010

Educating Classmates about Animal Cruelty is Key for ‘2010 Humane Teen of the Year’

Alexis Ulrich, a 19-year-old lifelong animal lover from Lakewood, Colo., is The Humane Society of the United States' "2010 Humane Teen of the Year." The Humane Teen of the Year Award recognizes a student who has made a significant contribution to animal protection.

Ulrich, among other things, frequently speaks up for seals who are cruelly slaughtered, has visited orphaned elephants and rhinos in Kenya, and is organizing like-minded students in efforts to protect animals everywhere.

"Alexis' involvement in issues affecting a range of animals, from pets to wildlife, really stood out and made her the clear choice for Humane Teen of the Year," said Heidi O'Brien, youth outreach director for The HSUS. "Most notable are her grassroots efforts to help end the Canadian seal kill, the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth."

Alexis started volunteering as a high school student at the Animal Rescue and Adoption Society of Denver, where she socialized stray cats. She continued on at the Cat Care Society where she spent Saturday mornings accompanying shelter cats to a local nursing home. As a freshman in college, she volunteered each week as a shelter assistant with the Arizona Humane Society in Tempe. Now, as a sophomore at the University of Colorado, Alexis' work for animals includes:

  • Speaking to a group of hundreds of students in her class about the killing of baby seals in Canada;
  • Organizing petitions and letters to legislators encouraging the boycott of Canadian seafood, in an effort to end the commercial seal slaughter;
  • Visiting The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to learn how baby elephants and rhinos are orphaned due to poaching, how they are cared for and reintroduced into the wild;
  • Expanding her knowledge of international laws affecting animals and how one can work locally to bring about humane policies and legislation for animals;
  • Organizing an animal rights club on the University of Colorado-Denver campus.

When Alexis is questioned about why someone should care about animal welfare in the face of environmental degradation and starving children, she responds, "If we truly care for the health and welfare of our neighborhoods, then we must respect and commit to helping both the human and animal members of our communities."

For other teens who want to help animals, Alexis always advises, "Check out The HSUS Web site, humanesociety.org. Each issue is organized so well, with clear steps you can take to help."

Alexis' future plans include developing her animal club on campus to raise awareness, fundraise and organize legislative action to protect animals.

To read more about Alexis and other young people at work for animals, visit humanesociety.org/teens.

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Follow The Humane Society of the United States on Twitter.

The HSUS is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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