Consider becoming an advocate for the issues that are important to you.
To be an advocate, you don’t need to be an expert, although it does help to have an understanding about the issue(s) or a knowledge about the place. What follows are a few suggestions on how to speak on behalf of the issues you hold dear.
Educate yourself on the issue you want to represent. What organizations are talking about the issue? Learn more from them—read their website, newsletter, listen to their podcasts. What are the opposing views?
If an organization has a volunteer or advocacy newsletter—sign up! Participate in activities that will broaden your understanding.
When speaking, represent your own views or your slice of knowledge on an issue. For example, if you are concerned about lack of funding for park and forests maintenance, talk about your experience in parks and forests. Do NOT speak FOR an organization unless requested to do so, but DO speak about an issue on which you are passionate.
Invite others to join you in your volunteerism or host discussions about the issue. Some of the issues that we are facing—climate change, need for investment in our parks and forests, protection of the environment, fair districts--all need a cadre of concerned citizens to speak on their behalf.
While social media may be a good platform for recruiting volunteers and sharing information it is rarely a platform for debate.
Consider fundraising for your cause! Advocacy takes money. Trees take money. Turn your birthday party into a fundraiser for your cause—either online or in person. Consider donations to your favorite nonprofit in lieu of gifts.
Join an advocacy day on the issue of importance. To be a voice for our parks and forests, mark May 19th on your calendar and plan to join others in Harrisburg. Elected officials react more positively to visits from constituents than visits by staff paid to talk about the issue.
Educate others—invite people to hear a presenter or show a documentary (see PaConservationHeritage.org for some great documentaries) and discuss.
Make lifestyle changes that fit the issue in which you want to see action occur. Concerned about climate change? Reduce your dependence on fossil fuels or cut your food waste. Concerned about state parks and forests? Join or start a friends group or take on a needs list project. Community parks your concern? Attend local meetings and volunteer on a committee.
With permission from an organization addressing the cause you support, think about ways to support them…but remember to communicate with the group to make sure that your messaging is on target.
People of all ages can advocate—by making lifestyle changes, hosting informational meetings, joining a group, volunteering, and more. Meet with or write letters to elected officials at all levels of state government. Many conservation organizations will provide talking points on the issues that they follow and will notify their members and readers when actions need occur.
Make EarthDay50 the year that YOU begin to speak for the trees (and clean air, clean water, your environmental rights…) Visit the Partnerspage to learn more about the partners to EarthDay50PA or visit Protect Our Parks and Forests through the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation to see how you can be a voice for your state lands.