CAA Adventures at AR 2017

Brita Bengtson enjoys meeting an especially furry conference participant.

A number of CAA staff, board members, and volunteers attended the 2017 Animal Rights National Conference in August, and we want to tell you all about it.

This annual conference offers a chance to grow as animal advocates through inspiring presentations, hands-on workshops, and networking opportunities.

In my fourth year attending the conference, I realize that I find it most enriching to explore the wide variety of approaches to animal advocacy that are present at the conference. I learn a lot in hearing from those who take a different strategy than the one used by CAA, and I appreciate connecting with those larger organizations who mirror our values. All together, I’m reminded how big our movement is and what we ultimately share: a desire to help nonhuman animals.

Here are some other conference experiences and observations that we’ve taken back with us to enrich our local AR community:

From Sarah Badger, CAA Volunteer

This was my first AR Conference. I learned about current issues and the animal rights movement by attending sessions that discuss animal abuse in food, fashion, science, and entertainment. I also learned how to ​be a better advocate, what it’s like working in animal rights, and what activism approaches are most effective.

However, the best part was meeting awesome animal activists and making connections with the community. Bonding with people through the banquet, networking events, and closing night party was the most memorable part of the conference!

From Dave Rolsky, CAA Co-Founder and Board Member

The best thing for me about the conference is connecting with people who care about animals as much as I do. It’s great to see old friends from other parts of the country and to meet new people as well.

The most interesting session I attended was about getting people new to the issues to stick with diet change. The way groups like FARM and MFA are approaching this is something I think we could emulate on a local scale with CAA.

Of course, the real highlight was going to Poplar Spring Sanctuary on Monday and meeting the animals who lived there!

From Laura Matanah, CAA Executive Director

It was my first time at the conference, and I enjoyed hearing from so many folks in the movement. I especially appreciated the Engaging Inclusively workshop led by people of color. It was also great to build connections with fellow veg fest organizers through a networking session sponsored by VegFund.

During that session, I met organizer Dave Swarts, who founded Voice for Animals in Kansas City. We also got to connect on the trip to Poplar Spring Sanctuary. It was wonderful to see him again a couple weeks ago when he joined us to volunteer at Twin Cities Veg Fest.

I look forward to continued contact with many people I met during the conference.

From Abraham Rowe, CAA Volunteer and Board Member

One of my favorite things about attending the conference is the opportunity to hear from so many experienced advocates. It’s powerful to hear what strategies organizations working on a local level, like the Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, to national organizations like The Humane League are doing for animals. Sharing this information makes all of our organizations more effective and stronger. Plus the food was really good.

From Brita Bengtson, CAA Volunteer and TCVF Social Media Coordinator

This was the fifth year I have attended the conference. My main interest is discovering new and increasingly effective ways of advocating for animals.

I have made a point of experiencing the newest virtual reality technology these past three conferences. It is heartbreaking to see all this violence in virtual reality, but I want to be able to experience it for myself so that I can assess new outreach ideas for CAA. This year I experienced a portrayal of the open rescue of two piglets from Smithfield Foods.

You may have seen the story in the New York Times. The great thing about the video was the happy ending for these two lucky individuals. I hope it gives young activists hope for fighting for the rest of them.

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