July 19, 2017
It’s that time of year again. Winter August is coming! Throughout next month (also known as “August Recess”), members of Congress will be home in their state and district offices to host events at home and meet with constituents to talk about their priorities. This is a prime time for you to meet with your legislators and tell them about the value of science to your local community. We know that the process of scheduling meetings and reaching out to policymakers can seem a little overwhelming, but AGU is here for you! Throughout the end of July and the month of August, we’ll be posting weekly videos and blogs with tips, tricks, and firsthand accounts of scientists who have done congressional visits.
But why exactly should you do this? Are congressional offices really going to meet with you? And does your voice really matter? We’ve come up with 5 reasons you should engage throughout the August recess to encourage you to get involved and answer those questions!
1. It’s convenient. These meetings are close to home. Instead of traveling to meet with your member of Congress, they’ll be home in your district. Additionally, they won’t be juggling a legislative schedule like they would when they are in session on the Hill, so they’ll likely have more availability to meet with you.
2. This is a key moment in the legislative process. Congress must complete all 12 spending bills by October 1st , the start of fiscal year 2018. This means that they will have one full month following August recess to kick it into gear and wrap up spending bills, or agree on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded. Since they’ll be entering a period of high work volume in September that has grave implications on science, it’s critical that you weigh in with them about the importance of science while they’re home in August!
3. You have step-by-step AGU resources to support you. AGU offers a wealth of information to help you navigate congressional visits, from scheduling your meeting to figuring out what you want to say. Check out our District Days Webpage as we check in each week with new tips and tricks for your meetings. Additionally, our Science Policy Toolkits will aid you with a wide variety of resources from writing letters to calling offices to visiting your legislators in DC!
4. Science needs you! Without hearing from scientists, members of Congress and their staff might not understand the importance of geoscience funding and federal support. By just showing up and introducing yourself, you can put a personal face on science for the office, and serve as a resource to them on science-related issues. The goal of your meeting is to create a relationship and ongoing conversation with the office.
5. Your voice matters. When polled by the Congressional Management Foundation about the importance of staying in touch with constituents, 100% of legislators responded that it was important when evaluating their job satisfaction. After all, as a constituent, you hold the power of your vote. You legislator was elected to represent you and your interests. While it’s important to be respectful and open in meetings, don’t be afraid to ask for something. It’s their job!
August recess is a great opportunity for you to make your voice heard for science. AGU is here to offer tips, tools, and resources each step of the way. Keep an eye out each week as The Bridge posts first-hand accounts from scientists who have engaged with their policymakers, and always feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns you have about your meetings. Finally, share your experience with us by e-mailing us and sharing your pictures with us on social media using the hashtag #districtdays.