By Richard Gallon August 24, 2023

Three days, 13 campus ambassadors, 12 trainings, 10 legislative visits and a whole lot of immaculate vibes!

One workshop covered theories of change and the power of personal stories, another dove deeply into our issue areas and legislative priorities and the final workshop had ambassadors practicing the tactics of community organizing.

Expanding Community

This year was the first time other members of the EDF family joined the Defend Our Future ambassador training. Three members of the Community Engagement team attended and participated in our workshops, and four Political Affairs members spoke in panel discussions or co-led sessions. These EDFers gave campus ambassadors, the next generation of climate leaders, insights as to what an environmental career could look like and prepared them to effectively organize their communities.

Students on the Hill

The training culminated with our Defend Hill Day, where every campus ambassador met with their representative’s office. The campus ambassadors were excited to put their skills and knowledge into action through these meetings.

“Representing my community in the meeting felt like a lot of pressure at first,” said MaryGrace Gozzi, a University of Virginia campus ambassador. “But as soon as the meeting started, I realized that my representative’s office needed my input in order to do their job successfully. That realization made me more confident in the meeting, because if I didn’t bring issues to their attention, it’s possible no one else would.”

Defend Our Future’s campus ambassadors are looking forward to deepening relationships with these offices over the academic year through further meetings and campus events.

Continued Learning

While the three days were jam-packed with information, it still was not enough time to teach the campus ambassadors everything they need to know. This is why the campus ambassador program has been restructured to run for a full academic year.

 In the new structure, the fall semester is focused on continuing to learn grassroots tactics, partnership building and environmental justice, with the expectation that in the spring, ambassadors will be able to apply everything they’ve learned to create a small-scale field plan and campaign for a climate issue their campus community is deeply invested in. We can’t wait to see everything they do!

Looking Forward

At the close of the training week, we asked campus ambassadors to describe how they were feeling in a single word. They said “Exhilarated,” “Empowered,” “Inspired,” and “Hopeful.” The Defend Our Future team is all that and more as we look to the year ahead, and we hope you will join us in those feelings and on our journey.