NJ Science Teacher Recognized as Humane Educator of the Year at National Science Conference

Animalearn is pleased to announce that its 2015 Humane Educator of the Year is longtime New Jersey science teacher Bonnie Berenger. Animalearn is honoring Berenger because of her dedication to promoting humane science education at Hunterdon Central Regional High School, located in Flemington, New Jersey, for over a decade. Animalearn will present Ms. Berenger with her award at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Area Conference, being held at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia on November 12, 2015.

"We are proud to honor Bonnie Berenger as our Humane Educator of the Year for her dedication to continuously raise awareness about the harmful use of animals in education," said Animalearn Director, Nicole Green. "She is a true change-maker and passionate advocate working on behalf of students and animals."

Since 2000, Ms. Berenger has been working to make a difference for animals used in education, and has utilized Animalearn's resources to help enlighten others about humane science. Bonnie first reached out to Animalearn with the goal of instituting a biology course that did not include dissection. Because of her passion and dedication, Ms. Berenger, along with a colleague, designed a non-dissection biology course, that was later incorporated in the curriculum at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. This pioneering course used a virtual CD program, movies, human plastic models that students could take apart and manipulate, and interactive labs in which students tested human functions, such as heart rates. After a few months, not only did this course win the support of school administrators, but it also quickly became more popular than the traditional biology course at Hunterdon High. In fact, the non-dissection course earned the reputation among students that they could learn more without harming animals. Today, due largely to Berenger's influence, Hunterdon does not include animal dissection in its general biology courses.

"As teachers, we need to go beyond educating. We can also inspire compassion. Guiding students to tap into humanity's innate respect for and dependency on healthy ecosystems can encourage the next generation to be better stewards of the web of life than we have been," stated Berenger.

Ms. Berenger joins an influential list of past Animalearn Humane Educators, who promote and advocate for humane science education initiatives, including:
  • 2013 Recipient - Dr. Regina Milano, Science Teacher at West Haven High School West Haven CT.
  • 2012 Recipient - Patty McGinnis, NSTA Middle Level Science Teaching Director and Arcola Intermediate School Eagleville, PA.
  • 2011 Recipient - Michelle Galaria, Science Dept. Chair/Biology Teacher at James Logan High School in Union City, CA.
As a part of the award, Animalearn will donate $1,000 worth of dissection alternatives for Berenger to use with Hunterdon students.

Download the PDF press release here.