District Days 2017: Meet your legislator at home

This is a busy time for Congress as they debate funding and other relevant legislation impacting our federal science agencies. We need your voice to stand up for science this congressional recess.

The time is now! Your congressional members will be home in your local community for the August recess beginning Saturday, 29 July through 4 September where they will be meeting with their constituents (like you) to learn about their priorities and concerns.

Take the time to schedule a meeting with your legislator and tell them why science is essential to your community. We have all the tips, tools, and resources to help you have an effective meeting with your member of Congress. No experience necessary!

1) Schedule a meeting with your member of congress to talk about science

Take some time to schedule a meeting with your legislator using our tips and tools. Not sure of your congressional district or who your member is? Check out the Find My Representative tool or the Senate Website. And be sure to check out our sample meeting request email to get a clear idea of what a request looks like.

2) Creating your message

Now that you have scheduled a meeting with your member of Congress, it’s time to map out your “ask” (i.e. the purpose of your visit). Your ask can be anything from requesting that the member of Congress vote a particular way on a bill to simply letting the office know that you are an expert on a topic of interest to the district and would be happy to be a resource. Here are some suggested asks for your visits.

At the end of the day, your message should convey why an audience should care about what you’re asking for. For additional help in creating a message, check out AGU Sharing Science’s Message Worksheet, and for some additional science communication tips, check out this General Science Communication Tips handout.

3) Make a compelling leave behind

You’ve successfully created your message to your legislator. Now what? The next step in preparing for your meeting is creating a leave behind, or “one-pager”. Your goal in creating a one-pager is to have a single document that includes your contact information and your most important points. The document serves as a reminder to the person you met with of your main points and expertise, with the information needed for them to contact you if they have questions at a later date. For additional instructions on how to create a leave behind, click here. And check out a sample one-pager.

4) Meeting etiquette and checklist

Now that you have scheduled your meeting, drafted your message, and created your one-pager, it’s time to plan what to bring with you to your meeting, and the do’s and don’ts of what to say. Check out AGU’s Advocate Meeting Checklist for a list of what to remember to do before, during, and after your meeting.

5) Follow-up is key!

After your meeting, it’s important to remember to follow-up with your legislator in the short- and long-term! In the short-term: Send a thank you email to the staffer shortly following the meeting. Be sure to respond to any questions you couldn’t answer in the meeting and provide any follow-up information you promised. In the long-term: Set a reminder on your calendar to check in with the offices every few months. Even better, if you see a piece of legislation or current event that concerns you, call or write the office to let them know! Keep the lines of communication fresh and open. The ultimate goal is for you to build trust and form a relationship.

6) Tell us about your experience

We’ll be posting videos, resources, and best practices throughout the month, so check back frequently. To see how your colleagues have taken action, check out our Bridge blog. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and our Science Policy, and AGU Twitter accounts!