In January, we brought our campus ambassadors and organizers to Washington, D.C., for training and a day on the Hill to meet with lawmakers about our vision for a 100% clean future. Our new campus ambassadors learned how to establish a successful chapter on their campuses, recruit and mobilize their peers, and how to meet with their lawmakers. In a critical time where climate action is needed, our campus ambassadors brought both their questions and their passion for the environment to the table. Here’s what some of our ambassadors had to say following their time in DC:
“Traveling to DC to lobby our Arizona Senators and Representatives for a clean economy was a wonderful leadership opportunity to not only work on legislative reform, but to also build a network and connection with Congressional members and their staff representing the district I live in.”
-Taylor Redman, Arizona
“The Defend Our Future fly-in in Washington, DC was a wonderful experience; not only was I able to meet new friends from all over the country from different universities, but also gaining experience talking with members of Congress about climate change and their plans to tackle it! I can’t wait to take this valuable experience back to the Auraria campus and apply what I’ve learned from my time spent in our Nation’s Capital to our chapter. I can definitely get used to the happy hour culture and the good smelling candles!”
-Evan Pierpont, Colorado
“I had an incredible time meeting and working with the Defend team this past week in Washington, D.C. Though I was fortunate enough to visit previously on my eighth grade class trip, my intention was heightened significantly the second time around. My arms were riddled with goosebumps as I walked through the halls of the Senate and House buildings, and as I shared meaningful interactions with those who have the power and ability to affect systemic change on a national and international level.
What I found so special about Defend in particular is their willingness to reach across the aisle. As a digital native, I find myself engaged in seemingly constant political interaction on the internet, which has proven to be a hotbed for radicalization. My home state of Ohio is a swing state, and in meeting with my state’s two Senate offices, one Democrat and one Republican, I was able to understand that though the rankings of our values may be different, we are all doing our best to promote prosperity and well-being for ourselves and those we serve.
It’s hard to encapsulate the sense of significance and validation that accompanies a purposeful trip to our Nation’s Capital, but upon further reflection, I feel inspired to further practice what I preach and become a more and engaged change agent in my community. I could not be more grateful for the opportunities that Defend has already provided me, and I hope to be back in DC soon!”
-Addy Zenko, Ohio
“The Defend Our Future Fly-In event was truly a success! This event provided an opportunity for the Defend community to build relationships with new campus ambassadors as they will be representing the organization back on their college campuses. It was also inspiring to witness such a great group of students from different college campuses around the country share the same concerns to address climate change. Now more than ever, it is vital for younger generations to continue to sound the alarm on these issues as we will be the ones to undertake the consequences from previous generations’ disregard/inaction. Having recently moved to DC myself, it is important that we continue to gain momentum in the climate action movement. This movement enables a window of opportunity to create change whether it be on the small scale, or a large scale. With that being said, I am very grateful to be a part of such an ambitious and motivational organization that takes these issues seriously and for the opportunities that lie ahead.”
-Monica Nerz, D.C.