2016: The Year of Park Champion Advocacy

February 1, 2016, Department, by Jayni Rasmussen

Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL-10) has lunch with children at Waukegan Park District during  a 2015 Park Champion event to check out its Summer Food Service Program. This past summer, we were floored by the motivation and creativity of the Park Champions who stepped up in the first year of our new grassroots advocacy initiative. Following up on the success and lessons learned from the inaugural summer of Park Champion advocacy, we’re excited to expand the initiative by making 2016 the year of Park Champion advocacy.

2016 is going to be a big one. With one-third of the 100 U.S. Senate seats and all 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats up for election next year, the timing has never been better to host a Park Champion event. The Park Champion show-and-tell advocacy model is ideal during election years, as your federal elected officials will be eager to get out and be seen in their home states and districts. By hosting a Park Champion event, you are providing a photo-perfect venue for congressional members to connect with constituents. That’s why this year we’re excited to expand the initiative to a year-round movement with 50 Park Champion events in 50 states. 

You already know how important parks and recreation is to the community you serve. But, we need your help to ensure Congress continues to understand the importance of parks and recreation — help us meet our goal of 50 Park Champion events in 50 states by signing the Park Champion pledge

Once you’ve signed the pledge, take advantage of some of the great new tools available to you to get started:

Host an Event — Now Even Easier to Do

Park Champions who host events are powerfully poised to demonstrate the importance of parks and recreation to the community their members of Congress serve. It’s easy to build on an existing event by inviting your members of Congress. Check out www.nrpa.org/park-champions to access our easy-to-use Park Champion Advocacy Toolkit to get started. 

Learn and Grow 

Starting in early 2016, we’ll be hosting an exciting new series of monthly webinars designed to educate new and veteran Park Champions on how to be effective park and recreation advocates. Just like our 2015 webinars, the 2016 Park Champion webinar series will be packed with information on key park and recreation legislation, advocacy tips and tricks, and a premier slate of guest speakers. Stay tuned for a calendar of 2016 webinars. Did you miss any of our 2015 Park Champion webinars? Don’t worry! Archived recorded webinars are available here.  

Speak Up

We’re excited to announce that NRPA is now using CQ Engage, an innovative advocacy tool that makes it easier than ever for you to have your voices heard. With Engage, it takes just a few moments and the simple click of a button to be an advocate for the parks and recreation issues that matter most. Check out our new Engage site and take action today. 

Activate Your Networks 

NRPA is more than 50,000 members strong, but for each member agency, there are hundreds to thousands of volunteers and citizen advocates. Through webinars and an updated advocacy guide, we’ll be training our Park Champions on how to activate their networks to advocate for federal parks and recreation policy. 

Park Champion CoordiNation

In 2016, we’ll be ramping up opportunities for Park Champions across the nation to coordinate as a community. Using NRPA Connect, Park Champions will brainstorm ideas and network with other Champions. 

Maintain and Bolster Relationships

Many NRPA members and Park Champions have either long-standing or recently established relationships with elected officials, so in 2016, we’ll be working with our Champions to help them maintain and bolster these relationships. 

Use Your NRPA Policy Team — We’re Here for You

In addition to meeting with members of Congress here in Washington, D.C., on your behalf, we are here to support you. From our office in the heart of D.C., we are ready to provide you with tailored briefings to prepare you for your meetings. Contact Jayni Rasmussen for details.

 

Jayni Rasmussen is NRPA’s Advocacy and Outreach Specialist.