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3 Ways to Advocate for Pennsylvania’s Environment


Anyone can be an environmental advocate. We, at PennFuture, appreciate you for taking the first step — having an interest in environmental issues. 


What is Environmental Advocacy? 

Environmental advocacy involves using your voice to influence public policy at the local, state, and national levels to achieve positive outcomes for the environment and climate. 

While your individual actions in your community matter, the real progress on environmental protection, conservation, and climate change comes from policy shifts: getting stronger regulations and laws that protect water and habitats, limit industrial air pollution, and punish companies who dump toxins into waterways. 


Ways you can be an Environmental Advocate with PennFuture:


The ACE Program 

PennFuture’s Advocates for Conservation and the Environment volunteers provide local and state lawmakers with the opportunity to learn about environmental issues directly from their own constituents.

Interested individuals receive guidance from PennFuture staff on how to take the first steps to meet with their local elected officials. These meetings are aimed at building and reinforcing relationships with representatives at the federal and state levels, and are conducted as a grassroots, non-partisan effort. 

ACE volunteers meet with elected officials from both sides of the aisle, regardless of political affiliations, to advocate policy objectives rather than to advance an ideological agenda. 

The PennFuture Civic Engagement Team provides support to the ACE volunteers every step of the way, thus taking on the burden of meeting planning, drafting key talking points, and collecting information on environmental issues. 

"ACE volunteers have played a crucial role in bringing issues such as watershed protection, community solar, and other environmental issues to the forefront of their legislators' minds,” said Jess Cadorette, Director of Civic Engagement, “It is essential for everyday people to voice their concerns about the environment with the elected officials who represent them in order to make progress on these issues."

From 2022 to 2023, PennFuture ACE advocates hosted 24 meetings with lawmakers that featured discussions on Solar For Schools legislation, how to improve equity in the delivery of conservation program funds and technical assistance, and understanding the economic and job growth impact of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, among other topics. 

Join the ACE Program


Writing for Change: Op-Ed & Letters-to-the-Editor Submissions

Writing can change minds. A 2018 study found that Op-Eds had a long lasting impact on readers and have persuaded people’s opinions on policy issues.  

The editorial pages of print or digital news outlets are among the most read sections. This presents a great opportunity to reach out to your neighbors and lawmakers by expressing your thoughts in writing. Writing an Op-Ed or a shorter length Letter-to-the-Editor allows you to share your unique firsthand experience and add passion and emotion to any cause or issue. 

Just as with our ACE Program, our PennFuture staff will support you along the way, providing examples, offering to review, and showing how to submit your letter to newspapers in your region.  

"Our volunteers have written about the need to support farmers with conservation funding in the Farm Bill, as well as their fears about the impact of massive warehouse developments encroaching on their communities,” Maria Ocasio, Lehigh Valley Field Coordinator. “Writing is a powerful tool to connect more with your community and really get the word out on issues that matter to you. We've seen our volunteers' writing later referenced in city council meetings and discussed during legislative town hall meetings. Decision makers do pay attention to their constituents."

Since 2022, PennFuture volunteers have had 51 letters published in Pennsylvania newspapers on environmental issues. 

Volunteer with PennFuture


Empowering Communities: Local Land Use Guide Books

A growing concern for many Pennsylvanians is the proliferation of large distribution centers and truck terminals popping up in their towns. Spreading across the Lehigh Valley, Poconos, and beyond from the increased demand in online shopping, these large facilities create traffic congestion, noise, air pollution, and threaten environmentally sensitive areas and waterways. 

The first step for advocates is to understand the issues and potential solutions. In support of this, the PennFuture Legal Team developed both a Model Municipal Ordinance for zoning of logistics facilities, a toolkit to help advocate for the model ordinance, and a forthcoming how-to guide to the local land use processes, so that community members could have the knowledge and skills to get proposed issues in front of municipal leaders and encourage them to take action.

“Local land use issues are environmental issues. We have seen the impact that local residents can have in protecting our environment and safeguarding the health of our communities from emerging threats, and we want to empower the people to effectively advocate for these protections,” said Abigail M. Jones, Vice President of Legal & Policy. “By creating these resources, we hope to equip community members with the necessary knowledge, skills, and solutions, and place the power in the hands of those most impacted by environmental and health threats.” 


People Power

There is power in numbers. When constituents speak out on an issue, they can overcome the financial and political power of corporations and developers. Environmental advocacy enables us to express ourselves and to share our personal experiences regarding environmental issues that affect our communities to illuminate the change that needs to happen . 

As more people become advocates for the environment, the full extent of the impact of these issues becomes clearer to policymakers and harder to ignore. The result can be action to pass laws that will help to improve the quality of our air, water, and climate - for all Pennsylvanians.

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