“Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.”
Johann Gottfried Von Herder
Johann Gottfried Von Herder
Sometimes you need a jolt to fire you up – a little motivation so you can continue to do the work you do.
I got that jolt last week when I had the pleasure of running around the U.S. Capitol with 26 other wildlife advocates to talk with our members of Congress about the importance of wildlife funding.
Federal spending on all land, water and ocean and wildlife programs comprise less than 1% of the federal budget. Yet, wildlife and habitat conservation programs are threatened by draconian cuts. Cutting these modest but important programs will not address the problems with the federal budget but will have real and severe impacts on our nation's fish and wildlife,millions of outdoor enthusiasts, and the economies of local communities around the country.
The Wildlife Funding fly-in was made possible through a truly collaborative effort on the part of The Endangered Species Coalition, AmericanBird Conservancy, Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Audubon, BatConservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, League of ConservationVoters, National Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, The WildlifeSociety, Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund.
I have to admit, I've been doing this work for over 25 years and sometimes I forget how important it is for our Representatives to hear from their constituents and how empowering it is for the constituents to meet with their member and share their personal stories. The participants that came to DC represented small businesses, bird watchers, refuge and zoo volunteers, hunters and anglers, and local conservation groups. And their stories were powerful!
The schedule we had was a bit grueling. A half a day of preparation and training and then we hit the ground running. In one day 27 participants of our wildlife funding fly-in, representing 17 states, visited over 70 Congressional offices!! That evening we celebrated with a wildlife reception at the Capitol Visitor Center. Special thanks go out to Senator Cardin (D-VA), Senator Collins (R-ME), Representative Fitzpatrick(R-PA) and Representative Moran (D-VA) for hosting the reception. And to Representative Heinrich (D-NM), the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service- Dan Ashe, and other officials from the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service for also attending.. It was great way to wrap up the fly-in and it provided a nice opportunity for all of us to come together, share our stories from the day, celebrate with our champions on the Hill and talk with members of the Administration.
I was truly inspired by all of the advocates that took time out of their daily lives, left their work and families, to travel to Washington DC to help raise awareness about why wildlife is important to them.
The feedback we've received has been overwhelmingly positive from both the offices we visited and from the advocates themselves.
I want to personally thank all of the team that came in to DC – your enthusiasm and motivation fired me up!!
Endangered Species Coalition