A reflection of our most recent Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.
In early April, a number of our Clean Water Alliance Members had the opportunity to participate in a “Clean Water Advocacy Day” in Washington D.C. The day, held in conjunction with the Choose Clean Water Coalition and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed’s Advocacy Day, was focused on urging our Congressional Delegation to fight for the much-needed federal programs that help improve Delaware’s water quality and lessen the impact of flooding.
Attendees included representatives from Delaware Nature Society, the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers Association, Christina Navy, Brandywine Red Clay Alliance and the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays.
Attendees met with Senator Tom Carper and his staff as well as staff from Senator Chris Coons’ and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester’s offices. Some of our attendees have been to meeting on The Hill before, while this was a new experience for others.
As we headed home, we had a chance to reflect on the experience with some of our attendees, including:
Chris Bason, Executive Director, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (CB)
John Williams, Founder, Christina Navy (JW)
Todd Pride, Lead Coach, Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers and Outdoors Program (TP)
Q: Why did you attend Advocacy Day?
TP: Clean and healthy water is essential to the success of hunting and fishing activities. Delaware is at the “apex” of the Mid-Atlantic region’s Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds, which is critical to the health and economic vitality of the region. It was important to me that our elected officials see the passion and experiences the fishing and hunting communities have for clean water.
JW: Rowing on dirty water in Wilmington for 27 years, I like the idea that green infrastructure projects can improve Wilmington and turn it into a “green” place where people want to work and live — an Emerald City! I think it’s important our officials make this connection.
CB: Ultimately, I’ve dedicated my career to protecting the water and natural lands in Delaware. When I heard about this opportunity from Delaware Nature Society, I couldn’t turn it down!
Q: After the day wrapped up, what were your thoughts on the experience?
CB: I was impressed by the enthusiasm demonstrated by the advocates and Congressional Offices, particularly that of Senator Carper. In the face of adversity, a variety of people that have a deep connection and interest in clean water spoke in a very positive way about why continued progress on clean water will happen.
JW: It was great to have so many different perspectives on clean water speaking with our congressional team. We all need water to live and we all will benefit from clean water. The message really “sunk in.”
TP: What was most impressive to me was the broad level of support for our region’s (and country’s) clean water programs. I was also impressed by support from and for our area’s agriculture industry.
Q: Did you feel the folks we met with were approachable and willing to tackle the issue? Would you recommend other Delawareans meet with their elected officials?
CB: The staff is always approachable and they listen. That is their job, but I feel like many people don’t realize that or they have a hard time trusting that. The staff have to ensure that everyone who wants to be heard is, so meetings or phone calls are often quick. But I always encourage people that any opinion or information they have matters a great deal and the Congressional Offices have a strong interest in hearing it.
JW: Everyone was very pleasant and receptive. I could feel their genuine shared concern for our cause. They also had suggestions for how to approach others with differing opinions to help pass needed clean water legislation.
Q: What was the top thing you walked away with from the day?
JW: I really enjoyed meeting the members of the “clean water team” from Delaware. We are not only advocating for our organizations, but also making cross-connections to stand united with a strong message.
TP: My biggest takeaway was the incredible teamwork and leadership displayed by so many interests. We came out of this day with some new relationships and have already started working with some of the participants we met to further mobilize the support from the hunting and fishing communities.