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Activist Profile: Kassy Ortega

October 10, 2012

Continuing our series of activist profiles, we head over to SoCal to talk with Kassy Ortega, who has reached nearly 14,000 students already this term!

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania. I’m now living in Temecula, California with my fiance, a U.S. Marine and vegan, and loving the West Coast life!

How long have you been involved in animal rights and how did you get interested?

I have been involved in animal rights for about six years now. I have always had a deep compassion for animals, but had never been aware of the underlying issues associated with using animals for food. In high school, all it took was a video of the cruelty animals had to endure to end up on my plate and I instantly became vegetarian and now vegan! Ever since then I have been a voice for the animals, all through high school and college.

What made you decide to start leafleting?

After completing an internship in D.C. with another animal rights nonprofit, graduating from college this May, and then soon after moving across the country to California, I knew my passion was in animal rights and needed to find a way to get involved even though I was new to the area. John Oberg and I interned together previously and he happened to be in my area leafleting at Warped Tour. He invited me along for the ride. From there I got in contact with Nikki Benoit and fell in love with leafleting! Leafleting is the most fun and powerful form of outreach that I have ever done, and it is also the most rewarding!

What was your most positive leafleting experience and why?

So far, I cannot say that I have only one positive experience that trumps all, but about every time I leaflet at a school I have at least one student who comes up to me with questions about the information that I am handing out, wanting answers and wanting to make a difference in the lives of animals. All the individuals who come forward wanting to change their lives in some way to better the animals, the world and themselves, makes leafleting a positive experience in general. This work is life changing to the individuals that you reach and also to yourself.

What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?

Anyone can leaflet! Being nervous is completely normal. A crowd of people racing around at a class change can be intimidating if you are leafleting on your own for the first time. If you want to get involved in leafleting and have never done it before, have a friend join you the first couple times around to ease the butterflies. Once you become comfortable with approaching others with a booklet, you will find out how easy it really is!