Today’s special guest blog
post comes from Brad Armstrong, a student at Utah State University and a member
in the NRPA Young Professional Network. Brad’s post provides great tips and
veteran insight into NRPA’s annual advocacy event, National Legislative Forum.
Experiences from a
Does it really make a difference?
I have been attending the NRPA Legislative Forum and midyear
meetings for the past seven years. I reside in a very conservative or “red”
state. It has always been a challenge to find any support and we never have any
commitment from Utah’s Senators and Congressmen. The Republican majority from
Utah does not see the value of or need to invest more federal dollars into
initiatives that they believe should be state-directed efforts. Our lone Democratic
Representative does understand the need for and value of these programs, but
supports them from a distance. Utah does not have a champion supporter for any
of what NRPA advocates for. In the past three years, lobbying has been even
more difficult to bring up the economic or financial perspective of what NRPA
values to be critical in providing for healthy lifestyles. It is true that the
federal government wants to tighten its economic belt. It is true that NRPA
needs to show the economic value of this legislation we lobby for through sound
data and results even just for the request of committed support.
I have taken time out of my schedule with my own money to
attend the Legislative Forum. I have found that my interests and passions lie
along the lines of NRPA. I am committed to help move these initiatives forward
in both the state and federal avenues. I have written papers and completed many
hours of research on the Land and Water Conservation Fund with emphasis on the
state-side assistance program in my schooling. I have become very involved with
the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) efforts, especially here in Utah. We are
working towards an annual NCLI week during the second week in June. We are
creating a state-wide NCLI coalition to promote environmental education and
literacy, and to provide opportunities to get the youth outdoors. My
educational pursuits changed from just parks and recreation to parks,
recreation, conservation, and sustainability as a direct result of attending
the Legislative Forum.
Some tips I have learned from my experiences:
- Study out and understand in depth two issues
that NRPA is advocating for. The critical issues are LWCF (state-side
assistance), No Child Left inside, and the Urban Revitalization and Livable
Communities initiatives. They may be in a different format, but essentially the
- Know the relationship between those issues you
have studied and the needs of your state. Provide concrete data, personal and
third-part experiences, and real examples about how these issues affect you and
- Be on time and respect the office that
Your Senator and/or Representative holds. The country views Congress as less
than favorable with the partisan politics. This should not influence the
respect of the office and the timely importance of NRPA’s message.
- Be concise and succinct with your delivery and
be prepared to answer any questions they or their staff may have. Be able to
commit to following up with any questions after your visit on a timely basis.
Does it really
make a difference?
I say YES! You have to believe
that it does make a difference.
Is it worth the effort of taking time out of
your life to be there?
I say YES! It is our duty as citizens to voice
what we believe is right.
We can influence those in power to
understand that, although these initiatives may not be understood by all or
favorable, they should listen, study, and evaluate them in order to make the
best decision for their constituency possible.