A Life Devoted to Advocating for Animals and the Environment
Monica Tierney Teves '94

At a very young age, I remember discovering a passion for animals and the environment. There was no single catalyst and my family wasn't particularly into nature. I, myself, wasn’t even a big outdoors person. But for some reason, I became an environmental activist. I think it just must have been part of God’s plan.

Throughout the years, I have been involved in many green projects on both a local and international level. I have worked at the United Nations on sustainable development projects as well as the Sierra Club on local green initiatives. Even when my positions didn’t entail environmental work, I always found a way to sneak in my green values. What I realized is that people do want to help, people do care. It’s just that they get so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to start. When they begin adopting green practices, it becomes habitual and all these small actions add up.

One of Monica's preschool students drew a picture of an elephant.

More recently, my passion for the environment and animals has been amplified as a result of having mini activists by my side. I currently manage preschools in Northern Virginia where I share my passion with the children. Loving animals and the outdoors are innate to them so I couldn’t ask for better partners.  

We have implemented eco-friendly practices in each of our schools as well as taught the children about protecting the environment. They understand why it’s important to respect nature and all forms of life, even the tiny insects that they find on the playground. In April, our schools will partner with the National Park Service to plant 71 trees on a plot of land near Key Bridge in Virginia. 

With regard to animal rights, I make sure that our children’s comments are included on important animal justice issues. They helped me write a letter to the USDA to explain why animals’ rights are important and why our laws need to protect them. We created a poster in support of an elephant’s release from the Los Angeles Zoo and this past Christmas we raised $400 to donate supplies to a local animal shelter. 

Despite their young age, children are able to participate in their community and be engaged social citizens. I enjoy being by their side working on these causes. 
But every day I do worry. What kind of planet are we passing on to them? Frequently, if not daily, I feel broken when I hear stories about environmental setbacks, pollution, inhumane farming practices, animal cruelty. 

I know how important education can be in fostering values of kindness, respect, and service, values that Visitation instilled in me.

In this place of brokenness, I go to gratitude.  I focus on others and all the compassionate people on the front lines working hard to make a difference. I’m grateful to them. I focus on the children that care just as much as I do about these issues. I’m grateful for their love and innocence. I focus on myself and what I can do to make things better. I’m grateful for God’s guidance.  It is in this space of gratitude, I feel whole again. 

- Monica Tierney Teves '94