Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues
On Saturday, Nov. 10, PennFuture and Trout Unlimited hosted a workshop at Wildwood Park’s Benjamin Olewine III Nature Center in Harrisburg to discuss the Farm Bill, Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, stream redesignation, and to conduct hands-on workshops for participants interested in water advocacy.
The workshop began with PennFuture and Trout Unlimited giving an overview of important priority areas that we are focused on, along with an overview of why we decided to host the event. After the initial introduction concluded, we divided the attendees into two different groups, where we then began our workshops.
Trout Unlimited’s workshop, conducted by Mid-Atlantic Policy Director David Kinney and Mid-Atlantic Organizer Robert Shane, provided an overview and hands-on training about how to write opinion pieces and letters to the editor for newspapers and publications about clean water issues. Each participant drafted their own writing sample regarding the importance of clean streams and clean water.
PennFuture’s workshop, led by myself and Director of Policy Ezra Thrush, focused on how to effectively conduct meetings with your elected officials about clean water issues. The one-hour session provided a detailed overview about how to set up a meeting with your legislator, including outreach to bring along fellow constituents, conducting the meeting, and following up after the meeting with the legislator.
Following the workshops, we were fortunate enough to be joined by Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York) and Rep. David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster). Each of the representatives gave an overview of why clean water is important to them, as well as what kinds of environmental legislation we can expect to see in the next legislative session. We were able to hold a full one-hour breakout session with each of the representatives, where the participants were able to utilize the skills they had learned during our workshops and discuss the clean water issues that are most important to them.
Meeting with your elected officials is one of the most important actions you can take as a citizen. It’s a small way you can make a big difference in your community. Teresa Caruthers, who attended the workshop, recently began volunteering with the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and expressed just how important it is.
“We (Alliance) recognize that clean water is essential for population health, as well as the health of our ecosystems. The PennFuture & Trout Unlimited workshop offered me a timely opportunity to learn more about the broad range of issues, along with strategies to communicate effectively with public officials and the press,” Caruthers said.
We hope the attendees at the workshop will apply the skills they learned to take initiative and develop relationships with their legislators moving forward. As we begin a new legislative session in just a few short months in Harrisburg, now is the time to get out and begin meeting with your returning or new elected officials. Your voice matters.
Remember - to make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers.