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 your next event!

Events could include a:

  • Park dedication
  • Groundbreaking ceremony
  • Program kick-off
  • Special event 

Make sure to invite your members of Congress! Any event with a member of Congress or their staff present counts as a Park Champion event. 

  • Open or CloseStep 1: Park Champion Event Basics

    What type of event should I invite my member of Congress to?

    A good general rule is: if you're already inviting your local and state elected officials to an event, invite your federal elected officials, too! Any event can be a good opportunity to build your relationship with your officials. 

    Not sure who your members of Congress are? Use the zip code search tool above to look them up. 

    Need some ideas? Here are a few  great examples from Park Champions across the country: 

    o Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks and Baltimore Parks and People Foundation hosted Senator Ben Cardin at the grand opening of Ambrose Kennedy Park.

    o East Orange Recreation and Cultural Affairs hosted staff from Senator Robert Menendez's office at their summer meal program kick-off celebration.

    o Louisville Parks and Recreation hosted Congressman John Yarmuth at their West Louisville Appreciation Day for the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative.

  • 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 2019 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:

    o General Events
    o 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. Download 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 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: Use NRPA resources to learn about our issues and communicate effectively with elected officials.

  • 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.

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

  • 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 [@RepresentativeX] for visiting our community! We appreciate your support of local parks and recreation. #ParkChampion @NRPA_news

  • 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.

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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