This past March, Palm Oil Activists from around the country gathered in the San Francisco Bay Area for a five-day campaign organizing and direct actions training with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) campaigners and staff. These activists now make up the inspiring Palm Oil Action Team Leaders, and are taking the tools and skills they learned from the trainings back to their respective hometowns, where they are educating and mobilizing their communities to take action against Conflict Palm Oil. We will be releasing a series of blog with each one telling a story of a different leader. Here is part 1 of the series: Lindsay’s story on how her journey with activism began and why the issue of Conflict Palm Oil motivates the work that she does. If you live in the Boston, MA area and feel inspired by Lindsay’s story, sign up to work with her by clicking the sign-up link at the bottom of the page!
Lindsay Vanderhoogt, 23, Boston, MA
Lindsay’s passion for animal activism has been a reality since she was 16, when she started a pet supply drive at her high school. As she grew older, she became more independent, self aware, and empowered, and her passion to make a difference in the world flourished as well. Activism and organizing have woven into her every day life, through many different channels. Aside from being a Palm Oil Action Leader, she is also the social media assistant for the Malaysian NGO Friends of the Orangutans, a monthly contributor for the online magazine Selva Beat, and is currently organizing an event she is hosting this summer with the Boston Palm Oil Action Team. She juggles all of these responsibilities while simultaneously working a full-time job at a animal advocacy organization in downtown Boston! In her own words,
Activism isn't just something I do anymore - it's how I define myself.
The fight against Conflict Palm Oil is nothing new to Lindsay. While she is a lover of all animals, orangutans have always held a particularly special place in Lindsay’s heart, which she credits her mother for. Since Lindsay was a young child her mother has shared her love of orangutans with her, gifting her with a stuffed orangutan the day she was born. That stuffed orangutan was always by Lindsay’s side as child, thus she associated that little friend with comfort and love, which ultimately shaped the connection she feels with and passion for protecting this species. For her senior project in high school, Lindsay focused her research on the palm oil industry’s effect on orangutans and their habitat. Her research brought her to realize the severity of the effects that this industry has on the orangutan species, and thus her life’s passion was confirmed:
I say this all the time, but only because I really mean it: this will be the cause that I dedicate my life to. At the end of my life, I want to be able to look back and see that I made a positive impact on this issue, or else I will have lived a life in vain.
While the threat to the orangutan species will always act as a driving force to her dedication to fight Conflict Palm Oil, Lindsay is also motivated by detrimental consequences the industry has on climate change, deforestation, and human rights, particularly women's and children’s rights. Lindsay is an empowering, dedicated, and inspiring activist whose passion will bring beauty, light, and great change to the world!
Do you live in the Boston area and want to work with Lindsay to fight Conflict Palm Oil ? Now’s your chance! She is planning an event in the Boston Common to both celebrate International Orangutan Day on August 23rd and to host a fun photo petition event.