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VACAVILLE - It's not enough to care.

That is how Marji Beach begins her talks on farm animal activism.

"You have to get past the 'I care a lot' stage," Beach said at The Animal Place in Vacaville during a recent gathering of animal lovers interested in learning how to become activists.

Beach is the sharp end of The Animal Place's evolution from a place that rescues and cares for abused farm animals to a proactive organization lobbying locally and in Sacramento for farm-animal rights.

She ran The Animal Place's first activism workshop in early June, teaching a dozen students from the Sacramento and San Francisco areas how to join the fight.

Beach's first assurance is that the group is not simply tilting at windmills. It has already won a series of victories against factory farming and farm animal abuse.
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One could say Beach has been a part of the movement since she was 13.

That was when a news story about farm animals prompted her to become a vegetarian. In high school, she was part of the Ethical Treatment of Animals and wrote letters lobbying for better farm conditions.

"I wanted to become a veterinarian and I went to UC Davis for animal science," Beach said. "It was an awkward experience to be in an animal science program since they are about raising animals to eat."

Being a veterinarian wasn't the right fit. When she spotted a news article about The Animal Place, she signed up as a volunteer and later progressed to become a program coordinator.

"Here was this sanctuary that was trying to treat animals better," Beach said. "It was the right place."
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The activism workshop started as an animal awareness workshop, where "we were telling them about all the horrible things, but we were not telling them anything to do about it," Beach said.

The classes and orientations include a tour of the small farm and an introduction to the animals that have found their way to The Animal Place from Vacaville area ranches and factory farms in Louisiana.

Now, Beach lays out all the legal means activists can do.

"People want to help animals; they just don't know what they can do," Beach said. "We want to give people things that they can do."

Beach's list of what people can do to help animals includes lobbying legislators in person or by letter and e-mail, setting out informational tables at area events or by simply becoming a vegetarian.
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One of the challenges for Beach is getting more people to care about farm animals.

"People just don't that that connection to farm animals," Beach said. "Some people don't care. Some do but don't have the opportunity to get involved. Our goal is to convince people that they can be a part of the change that they want to see."

For more information, contact Beach at marji@animalplace.org.

- Reach Ian Thompson at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net

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full story:
http://www.davisenterprise.com/articles/2007/07/03/news/184new0.txt


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