State Bar honors student for work in animal law

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Michigan State University College of Law student Chelsea M. Rider said she was deeply honored to be named the 2015 recipient of the Wanda A. Nash Award by the State Bar of Michigan for her efforts in animal welfare law.

The award recognizes a Michigan law student who had the most impact on animal law and is named after the State Bar of Michigan’s Animal Law Section founder, the first state bar association to approve such a section. Rider was honored at a recent reception.

“Most people don’t realize just how many legal issues that affect humans, also impact animals,” Rider said. “I’ve really tried to open their eyes to how connected these issues are.”

Despite being a self-described introvert with a deep fear of public speaking, she has connected many of the animal welfare student groups on campus in her roles as president of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Environmental Law Society, bringing together student efforts in the colleges of veterinary medicine, sociology, biology, and more.

She currently is working an externship with the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) to develop a training plan for law enforcement officers on how to effectively interact with animals. Additionally, she is active with the Michigan Political Action Committee for Animals and provides recommendations regarding legislation.

“Your background may be the closest yet to my mom’s history,” said Aaron Nash, about his mother Wanda, in an email to Rider. “I remember her volunteering her time to speak at law enforcement agencies and conferences, spreading the message that they didn’t have to shoot every dog they came across. We’re thankful you’re keeping the message going and adding your own insights and passion to the cause of animals.”

As an active social media user, Rider had a long Twitter conversation with LexBlog founder Kevin O’Keefe, which eventually sparked his interest in MSU Law and its students’ efforts to harness social media.

“Social media is just one of the important ways that I can connect with people and increase awareness about how important these issues are,” she explained. “For someone who is deeply introverted and doesn’t like public speaking at all, social media gives me a way to communicate that I never would have otherwise.”

Rider also was instrumental in bringing the 3rd Floor exhibition of photographer Jo-Anne McArthur’s work “We Animals: Examining the Human Relationship with Animals.” The photographs are being auctioned off with proceeds donated to the MSU Law chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Along with her two young daughters, Isabella and Gwyndolyn, Rider is raising two Boston terriers, Polly and Johnny.

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