January 27, 2017

10 Ways to Engage your Members of Congress in Minutes

Posted by bwebster

Every two years, a new Congress takes office.  Now is an excellent time to engage with the incoming 115th Congress by persuading your senators and representatives to make science a priority this Congress. Getting engaged in science policy is easier than ever, especially with the tools and resources AGU has to offer. Here are ten ways you can get involved, whether you have one minute, five, 10, 30 or an hour.

One Minute

  • Sign-up for AGU’s Science Policy Alerts to stay current on the latest science policy news, learn what AGU is doing to support scientists in Washington, D.C., and read about opportunities to engage in science policy.
  • Find out who your federal lawmakers are. It’s easy to be in touch with your elected officials – you can find your Representative here and your Senators here
  • Consider tweeting at your legislators about the importance of science, either about your work broadly, or in regards to a specific piece of legislation, agency, or program. This approach can be especially effective if Congress is actively considering a bill or other policy that directly affects the issue – but it’s valuable no matter what. Having colleagues, friends, or family tweet within the same day on the same issue can be a great way to amplify your voice. Hearing from only 10 constituents on an issue can be enough to affect some legislators’ actions. And remember #scienceisessential.

Five Minutes

  • Participate in one of AGU’s Action Center campaigns. Campaigns can include actions such as sharing your experiences about science, tweeting to your member of Congress about an important bill, or writing your senators and representatives about the value of federal funding for science.
  • Subscribe to your legislators’ press releases or news listserv to stay current on their legislative activity and their positions on issues you care about.

10 Minutes

  • Call your members of Congress and talk to them about the importance of science. Congressional staff say that phone calls are one of the most effective ways to engage with them, and most offices have someone who actively tracks the issues they receive calls about. You can call either the Washington, D.C. or office in your home town – or both! Ask for the person who handles science issues. If that person is unavailable, then talk to the staffer who answered the phone. Be sure that you have an ask or action you want the member to take in relation to science. For example, you can ask your member of Congress to support or oppose a bill or policy, make a public statement about an issue, or join a caucus. Be sure to end by thanking the staffer for their time. For more details check out the new AGU science policy toolkit.

30 Minutes

  • Write a letter to your member of Congress so that you can describe in more detail the importance of science. Address your letter directly to your legislator in the Washington, D.C. office. For more details check out the new AGU science policy toolkits.

60 Minutes

  • Go to a town hall or coffee hour hosted by your member of Congress. When they are home in their state, every member of Congress hosts community town halls or office hours to allow constituents to talk to them. Take advantage of these informal opportunities to meet your member of Congress, talk to them about the science policy issues that are important to you, and ask them about the issues that they are working on. You can find out your legislator’s schedule by visiting their website or calling their office.
  • Write an op-ed or letter to the editor about the importance of science for your local newspaper. Because they understand that they are there to represent their constituents, most legislators value news stories and op-eds in their local newspapers more than even national publications. By writing as a constituent to your local paper, you not only give your neighbors a chance to learn from them, you also access a powerful tool for bringing your legislator’s attention to an issue. Check out the tips from AGU’s Sharing Science program for more information on how to write an op-ed.
  • Watch an AGU science policy webinar. This year’s webinar series Back to Basics: Advocating for Yourself and Your Science will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to feel comfortable navigating the world of science policy in more depth.
 For any questions, please contact us at sciencepolicy@agu.org. We’re here to help!