Make The Choice to Be The Voice for Parks and Recreation… Join Us at Legislative Forum

January 1, 2014, Department, by David Tyahla

2010 Legislative Forum delegates meet with former Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) at his office on Capitol Hill.In March, NRPA will host the annual National Legislative Forum on Parks and Recreation in Washington, D.C. The Legislative Forum is NRPA’s premier annual advocacy event and is critical to advancing the national legislative agenda for parks and recreation.

NRPA members are the most powerful voice for parks and recreation, and the Legislative Forum is the perfect opportunity to meet with elected officials and have your voice heard.  Past attendees report that they have gotten a better understanding of the legislative and decisionmaking process, developed stronger relationships with their elected leaders (and their staff) in D.C., and found the tools and confidence to continue having meaningful impact in their advocacy efforts moving forward.

In fact, it was a 2013 Legislative Forum rookie attendee’s experience that was the catalyst for a major NRPA public policy success story: introduction of key legislation supporting additional funding for state and local parks and recreation through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) State Assistance Program. Eriks Janelsins also shares his first Legislative Forum experience with his West Virginia representatives and senators at the end of this article. As you can see, these meetings in our nation’s capital play a key role in advancing legislation that shapes the future of parks and recreation.  

So, why should you join your colleagues and attend Legislative Forum on March 25–26 in Washington? 

The Timing

2014 promises to be an exciting year with key park and recreation public policy priorities at the forefront of the Capitol Hill legislative agenda, including the renewal of our federal transportation policy, which provides funding for local walking and biking projects, as well as the future of LWCF. Add to that, all 435 House seats and one third of the Senate will be up for re-election, and the political stars are aligning for a rare opportunity to influence support for these priorities (and others) for years to come.

Oh, and late March is the time the cherry blossoms begin to bloom and spring officially arrives in Washington…

Your Valuable Time and Expense

We’ve listened to suggestions for how to make Legislative Forum even better and have worked to shorten the length of the event to a total of one and a half days (Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday), including training and visits to Capitol Hill. We’ve also arranged for less expensive lodging, while still being easily accessible to Congress, the Administration and transportation options in and out of D.C.  The host hotel is the Westin Arlington Gateway, located one block from the Washington Metro as well as direct highway routes to both D.C. area airports.  

Tools and Training

Further, NRPA will provide you with all the tools and training you need to be a confident advocate for parks and recreation both in Washington and back home in your local community.  Through pre-event webinars and correspondence prior to your trip to Washington, to the practical, hands-on training, materials and advice from advocacy experts once you arrive, Legislative Forum is geared to ensuring that all attendees — from the “rookie” to the seasoned veteran — are prepared and ready to make a difference.

In fact, we kick off “training” with information on how to prepare and make the most of your Legislative Forum experience, even prior to your trip to Washington, in the Advocacy column of next month’s Parks & Recreation Magazine.

We look forward to seeing you from March 25–26 at Legislative Forum. Please contact the public policy team with any questions.

David Tyahla is NRPA’s Senior Government Affairs Manager.


A Successful Attendee’s Perspective

Eriks Janelsins, president of the Oglebay Foundation where NRPA conducts its schools, made major strides for parks and recreation during his attendance at the 2013 Legislative Forum by gaining an influential advocate for stateside assistance appropriations through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bill (H.R. 2727) is currently being considered by a congressional committee.

As Woody Allen said, “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” What I discovered upon showing up at the 2013 NRPA Legislative Forum was the ability to easily accomplish a long list of initiatives that are a high priority for me personally and for my work at Oglebay. In a little more than two days, I had meaningful conversations with leaders in the field of parks and recreation in both individual and small group settings, attended workshops directly related to my work, gained knowledge that I was immediately able to utilize, and met senators and representatives who talked sincerely about the value of parks and recreation to communities, and they fed my passion and energy for our work.  

And, I almost didn’t attend for all of the usual reasons. I was certainly busy and travel through the snow across the West Virginia mountains was somewhat treacherous. Little did I know that a casual and relaxed 30-minute conversation with Congressman McKinley (R-WV1) would strike a chord with both the congressman and his staff. Shortly after my trip to D.C., Rep. McKinley introduced a bill to amend the LWCF Act of 1965 to provide 40 percent of LWCF funds to the Stateside Assistance Program, a long-held goal of NRPA’s public policy efforts. Thankfully, the NRPA legislative staff had given me all the tools for success. All I had to do was show up.  

— Eriks Janelsins