By Mikias Negussie August 9, 2018

Going to DC to meet with Senator Bennet and members of Senator Gardner’s, Representative DeGette’s, and Representative Perlmutter’s staff with Defend Our Future was a unique opportunity to show our representatives that their constituents care about protecting the environment. I gained valuable insight into how advocacy groups like Defend Our Future, a student focused project of the Environmental Defense Fund, can make a difference by bringing issues of climate change and pollution directly to our senators and representatives.

Advocating for environmentally friendly policy should be a non-partisan effort, as we all have a right to clean air, water, and public land, regardless of party. Talking to both Democrats and Republicans is a way to ensure both sides of the aisle are aware that young voters care about these issues, and that we will hold both parties accountable for their stance on climate change, the EPA, and clean energy.

I saw the direct impact of Defend Our Future’s Pledge to Vote campaign, which aims to increase millennial voter turnout.. Young people overwhelmingly support environmentally friendly policy, demonstrated by the thousands of signatures we collected from young people, pledging to vote with the environment in mind. We brought these signatures to our meetings to send a powerful message to our elected officials: young voters will support candidates that protect the environment. Thanks to Defend Our Future and the Environmental Defense Fund, I got the opportunity to take part in environmental advocacy on Capitol Hill.

Mikias Negussie is a Defend Our Future Intern at the University of Colorado, Denver.