As a Park Champion, you know how important parks and recreation is to the community you serve. We need your help to share that story with your members of Congress to ensure they continue to support parks and recreation.

Once you’ve signed the Park Champion pledge, use the Park Champion Advocacy Toolkit below to learn how you can engage your members of Congress. This easy-to-use toolkit will walk you through how to invite your members of Congress to an event, such as a park dedication or community celebration, that highlights your parks and programs.

Host a Park Champion event by August 31, 2017 to be eligible for prizes and recognition at NRPA's Annual Conference in New Orleans. 

Thank you for stepping up to be a Park Champion!

  • Open or CloseStep 1: Park Champion Event Basics

    Do you have an event(s) on your calendar in mind for your Park Champion event, or are you planning your event from scratch?

    You should invite all of your members of Congress to your Park Champion event, but this is an opportunity to be strategic. Members of Congress may be more likely to attend if the event you invite them to aligns with their Committee membership, interest or is relevant to issues on NRPA’s policy platformBrowse key Congressional leadership and committees.

    Example 1: If your U.S. senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, consider inviting him or her to tour your USDA summer or after-school meal and snack program. 

    Example 2: If your U.S. representative is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, consider inviting him or her to tour your Land and Water Conservation Fund-funded project.

    Use the zip code tool above and enter your park and recreation agency’s location. Your agency’s jurisdiction may lie in one or more Congressional districts.

  • Open or CloseStep 2: Calendar

    When do you want to host your Park Champion event?

    Before choosing an event to invite a member of Congress to, first consult the 2017 Congressional calendar. 

    Your member of Congress is more likely to attend the event on weekends or when Congress is in not in legislative session. If they have a conflict for the date of your event, invite a member of their staff to attend instead.

  • Open or CloseStep 3: Inviting Your Members of Congress

    After finding your elected officials using the zip code tool at the top of this page, download a draft invitation, depending on the issue area of your event:

    * General Events
    * Summer and After-School Meal Program Site Visits

    Personalize the invitation for each of your members of Congress, then copy and paste the text into the body of an email.

    Send each invitation to your members of Congress’ respective office schedulers. Click here to access a spreadsheet of names and email addresses of Congressional schedulers.

    Tip: If you don’t receive a response to your invitation after a few days, follow up. Congressional staffers appreciate the reminder.

  • Open or CloseStep 4: Prepare For The Visit

    Confirm with the office scheduler that the member of Congress is able to attend. If they’re not available, invite a member of their in-district staff to attend instead.

    After you’ve confirmed attendance, prepare the following items and share them with the office scheduler:

    o Develop a detailed event agenda that confirms how much time you will have with the member of Congress and staff
    o Prepare activities for the member of Congress and/or their staff to participate in the event
    o Identify other participants and speakers for the event, including state and local officials
    o Confirm that it is okay to engage local media regarding their visit (see Step 5)

    Additional items to prepare for the event:

    o Arrange for staff to take photos at the event or consider hiring a photographer
    o Prepare informational materials on how your agency benefits from federal parks and recreation policy to share with the staff of attending members of Congress.

    Tip: NRPA has fact sheets for each issue on our policy platform that you can print out and share.

  • Open or CloseStep 5: Rally the Media

    After you’ve confirmed with the office scheduler that it is okay to engage local media regarding the member of Congress’ visit, send out a press release.

    Download a draft press release, depending on the issue area of your event:

    * General Events
    * Summer and After-School Meal Program Site Visits

    Edit the press release and send it to local media outlets, including local access television stations.

    Would you like assistance with coordinating media at your event? E-mail Jayni Rasmussen for assistance.

  • Open or CloseStep 6: During the Event

    Here are some steps to follow to ensure you have a successful visit:

    o Welcome and introduce the member of Congress or their staff
    o Pay close attention to time and stay on schedule
    o Encourage the member of Congress to interact with community members
    o Share how federal parks and recreation policy benefits your community
    o Capture quotes and comments made by the member of Congress

    Throughout the event, don’t forget to create good photo opportunities. Take plenty of photos and videos then, share them on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) using #ParkChampion.

    Here is a draft social media post you can use to get started:

    Thanks to [@RepresentativeDoe] for visiting our community! We appreciate your support of local parks and rec. #ParkChampion

  • Open or CloseStep 7: Follow Up!

    After the event, don’t forget to follow up with your members of Congress!
    Send thank you notes with photos from the event to the offices of all attending members of Congress. Stay in touch by sending the occasional email with updates about your agency and invite your members of Congress to future events.

    Finally, let us know about your Park Champion event!
    Send us photos, quotes and takeaways by using the form below. Submit your Park Champion event information by August 31st to ensure you’re eligible for the 2017 Park Champion of the Year Award!

Many Ways To Be A Park Champion

You can be a Park Champion even if you can't hold a Park Champion event. NRPA's Public Policy team is hard at work in Washington, D.C. tracking legislation important for parks and recreation on Capitol Hill, so we'll be in communication with you to enlist your help when it’s needed most.  Head over to our advocacy page to take action today! 

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