- Date: March 15, 2017
- Author: Alison Henry
The halls of Congress came alive on Tuesday as dozens of WWF activists from across the country met with their representatives to advocate for international conservation funding.
Through more than 60 face-to-face meetings on Lobby Day 2017, our activists shared with key legislators their concerns and hopes on topics ranging from stopping wildlife trafficking to tackling climate change.
“The United States has been a leader for global good,” said Casey Irwin, a WWF Panda Ambassador from New York who participated in Lobby Day. “I hope that we can continue to have a leadership role in protecting wild spaces, in ensuring safety and resources to folks who are living on the front lines of this effort.”
For decades, the US government has played an essential role in promoting the conservation of species, habitats, and natural resources both at home and abroad. Not only do such investments help secure the future of our planet, but they also help bolster global stability and enhance our own nation’s security and economic growth.
Our activists expressed the essential need for conservation to remain a priority for both Republicans and Democrats. And meeting with representatives in person on Capitol Hill is one of the best ways to affect change.
“These well-timed ambassadors descended on DC just days before we expect to hear announcements about major potential cuts to US foreign assistance programs,” said Will Gartshore, senior policy specialist for WWF’s US government relations department. “There are no better voices to convince Members of Congress that US support for international conservation is critical and needs to continue than the committed constituents who joined us this week.”
Building a movement
An unseasonal snow storm barreled up the east coast on the eve of Lobby Day, threatening to disrupt a full day of meetings in Washington, DC. But our activists didn’t bat an eye. Crisscrossing snowy streets from office to office, they shared with their leaders their personal connections to nature and urged them to take action.
A pair from Texas talked with a legislative correspondent in the office of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) about how illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing impacts jobs in their home state. A group from Florida discussed with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fl.) the immediate effects of climate change in their neighborhoods, from constant flooding to unusually high tides. And a student from Maryland told Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) what he learned in school about the dangers of wildlife trafficking, and some solutions he and his classmates developed.
Alone, their voices matter. Together, they are amplified.
“As I walked the halls of Congress yesterday hearing stories of triumph from our activists, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” said Sara Thomas, manager of online advocacy at WWF. “Their dedication, determination, and commitment to protecting wildlife and wild places is vital to WWF’s mission. And they’re courageously opening new doors and inspiring all of us.”