PETA Augustus Club member Maru Vigo teaches middle-school Spanish in Tucson, Arizona—and also animal rights. Because of the profound difference that she has made in her students’ lives and because she never passes up an opportunity to help animals, PETA has recently selected Vigo as a winner in our TeachKind Teacher Appreciation contest for grades six through 12. Vigo was chosen because she best exemplifies the TeachKind goals of creatively inspiring students to help animals and encouraging them to use that inspiration to do more for animals in their schools and communities. Vigo has eloquently summed up her efforts: “As educators, it is our job to inspire young people and to instill values and compassion in them. If we want a better world, we must start by teaching kids about kindness, respect, and empathy for all.”
Vigo has included humane-education lessons in her classes every year since her career began. This year, her lessons centered on vegetarianism and greyhound racing. The class sampled vegan foods and used PETA’s vegetarian/vegan starter kit to discover plant-based foods at the supermarket. Her students also learned about the cruelty behind greyhound racing and welcomed a rescued former racer to their classroom.
Students have left Vigo’s classes determined to educate others about cruelty-free eating choices and why they should not patronize greyhound races. Even other educators have started noticing the effects that the humane-education classes have had on her students.
Vigo’s work doesn’t stop when she leaves the classroom. She is a great example of a committed activist who makes a difference for animals no matter where she goes. Whenever Vigo travels to South America, she takes the time to organize volunteers who hit the streets to promote spaying and neutering. The program that she helped establish in the Municipality of Surquillo in her hometown of Lima, Peru is the first of its kind in the country because the surgeries are free for all residents of the district. Her goal is to now bring this program to all of the districts in Lima.
As a member of PETA’s Augustus Club, Vigo’s dedication to animals will continue after her lifetime as well. Augustus Club members are a special group of people who have chosen to translate their compassion for animals and support of PETA into a gift that provides a legacy and creates a better future for animals. Vigo has made PETA a beneficiary in her will because, as she says, “We all work to see the day when all animals are liberated, but we must provide the means to achieve such a victory. I would like to keep helping animals even after my death. If you dedicate your life to fight against animal exploitation in all its cruel and obscure forms, you must make sure that all the good work PETA does can continue.”
For more information on leaving a legacy for animals as Maru has done, please check out our interactive resources on PETA.org/Legacy. You may also contact our philanthropic specialists at Legacy@peta.org.