Marsha Rakestraw, Director of Education Resources

Marsha RakestrawI’ve read that every seven years our bodies — our very cells — completely renew themselves, creating a whole new us. The transformation I’ve undergone feels almost that basic, that primal. I come from a background of ignorance about the world and the impact of our choices on it. I didn’t give the way I lived my life a second thought until college. Then the changes came…slowly. I began to pay attention to the impact of my choices. First on animals and the environment. Later, on other people and cultures. And the more I paid attention to those choices, the more I saw the interconnection…and the power.

I’ve discovered so much more joy and abundance and peace in the way I live now. It can be overwhelming to think about all the suffering and despair and violence and injustice and destruction in the world. It can be tempting to give in to the “I’m just one person; what can I do?” mantra that our culture feeds us. But still, with the struggle and the loneliness and the weariness of looking through a lens that sees the suffering and destruction all around us every single day, I have never felt more powerful.

As writer and activist Frances Moore Lappe says, “Every choice we make can be a celebration of the world we want.” My life is meaningful, joyful, and full of choices each day that support and nurture a world full of love, peace, compassion, sustainability and justice. That’s powerful. That’s transforming. That’s humane education.


Marsha Rakestraw joined IHE in January 2007 as the Web Content and Community Manager, and now she serves as Director of Education Resources & Alumni Relations. She’s also a faculty member for IHE’s online courses. Most of her life experiences have led up to her career in humane education; she just didn’t know it at the time. Marsha’s background includes extensive experience teaching at the Pre-K – graduate school levels, and more than 14 years working as a youth specialist in school and public libraries.

She was a founding member of Northwest VEG in Portland, Oregon, and gives humane education presentations on a variety of topics. Marsha helped organize the first two state animal rights conferences in Ohio, and has served on the boards of vegetarian, animal protection, and spay/neuter groups in Ohio and Oregon. She and her husband have been featured in The Oregonian and other media for their dedication to humane living.

Marsha has a B.F.A. in dance and a B.A. in English from Wichita State University, an M.L.S. in Library & Information Management from Emporia State University, and received her certification in Humane Education from IHE in December 2005.

Marsha is thrilled to be working with other humane educators and helping others learn about the power of their every day choices. When not pursuing humane education projects, she likes to spend her time reading, enjoying the outdoors, doing yoga, practicing Historic European Martial Arts (HEMA), plinking on her guitar, being occasionally crafty, and hanging out at her co-housing community.

Marsha lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and swimming-obsessed dog, Nala

View Marsha’s talk  at the 2009 Let Live Animal Rights Conference. The topic: Humane Education as an Essential Element of Animal Activism.

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