Santa Clarita Educator Wins National Kudos for Animal-Friendly Classroom

For Immediate Release:
May 6, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Santa Clarita, Calif.

Just in time for Teacher Appreciation Month (May), TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—has announced the results of its national 2022 Teacher Appreciation Contest, and Canyon High School educator Dennis Yong has been named a runner-up. Through creative classroom assignments, field trips to restore local habitats, and much more, Yong is helping his students explore the animal issues they’re passionate about—and, along the way, teaching them compassion for all sentient beings.

As a biology and AP environmental science teacher, Yong weaves in eco-conscious and animal-friendly teaching opportunities whenever he can. He helps his students pursue real-world learning experiences through “Compassion Challenges,” in which students can elect to make kinder food choices and track monthly progress. He also took his students on a field trip to Santa Monica Beach to go “trash fishing”—that is, “catching” trash instead of fish—to create a cleaner, safer environment for animals. When insects and other small animals end up inside the school, his students transport them safely outside and film a short video explaining the animal’s role in the local ecosystem.

To support his students’ interests in reducing their carbon footprints and protecting animals, Yong screens documentaries such as Cowspiracy and facilitates discussions about the meat industry’s impact on animals, the environment, and human health. He also plans to enhance his lessons by introducing SynFrog—a simulated whole-body frog model that can replace the use of frog cadavers and spare millions of lives.

“Whether he’s discussing the impact of animal agriculture or leading field trips to protect marine life, Dennis Yong is helping his students think critically about how our actions affect others,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “TeachKind is delighted to honor him for building innovative curricula that inspire young people to champion justice for animals.”

In addition to a framed certificate, Yong will receive an animal-friendly gift basket designed especially for teachers.

TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group offers free resources, presentations, lessons, and more to help teachers add compassion to their curricula.

For more information, please visit or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.

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