Chapman University students reflect on CED
By Kelvin C. Hoppel
This November, 10 Chapman University students joined hundreds of other volunteers at CCL’s 4th annual Congressional Education Day to become more active members in our democracy. These 10 Chapman students, many of us studying Environmental Science and Policy, were Haley Miller, Courtney Bonilla, Matthew Sahli, Rebecca Felix, Kaitlyn Bishop, Zach Davis, Monroe Roush, Maddie Sueltz, Mallory Warhurst, and myself. Thanks to SGA funding, CCL, and support from a multitude of Chapman University faculty and staff, each of us travelled from southern California to Washington, D.C., to take part in this event.
We were there for different reasons: some for hands-on policy experience, some to learn more about Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s proposed Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation, and some just to revel in the wonder that is Washington, D.C. However, we all came out of the experience full of hope, wonder, and knowledge, all due to the great work that Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Citizens’ Climate Education are doing.
Training with newcomers and Chapman alumni
After arriving in the nation’s capital on Sunday, November 12, a few of us met up with Chapman alumna Sara Wanous (‘17) who now works for CCL as an Administrative Assistant. We toured the city, stopping at the Natural History Museum, Lincoln and Washington Monuments, and the EPA office.
The following day was Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s education and training day. At the training, we met fellow newcomers and many CCL veterans, including fellow Chapman alumna Taylor Krause (‘16) who now works as an assistant to the president of CCL. We heard inspiring speeches, learned about CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal, and were trained on how to successfully communicate with members of Congress.
CCL focuses on building relationships with the elected officials, instead of merely pressing the issues, which we wholeheartedly agree with. In between the climate advocate, communication, and legislative training seminars, we met with our groups that we would be lobbying with the following day.
Empowered to lobby
Lobbying on the Hill the next day was an exciting, empowering part of the trip. Rebecca Felix said, “I was very surprised that the CCL staff and volunteers were not only open to me being a complete novice to lobbying and speaking with members of Congress, but also included me in the conversations with them.”
“I never thought that I would have the opportunity to physically speak with any member of Congress, and then I met my idol Elizabeth Warren,” said Haley Miller. “Thank you, CCL!”
One student also had the opportunity to meet with Laurie Saroff, the Chief of Staff for Lou Correa, who is the Representative of California’s 46th district, which includes Chapman University.
Mallory Warhurst said, “Meeting my Representative and having him tell me that he genuinely enjoys speaking with younger people as they are part of the generation that will be affected by the policies being enacted right now was very meaningful.” Overall, being in the nation’s capital was truly a life-changing experience.
CCL has invited us back for their even larger lobby day in June of 2018 and are working with us to spearhead a CCL group on campus, as they really appreciated having a strong representation from younger generations. They are currently working on recruiting and retaining more college-level students to demonstrate to Congress that young people care about their future, and therefore, so should their representatives.
We are incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn from CCL volunteers and staff, experience meeting with members of Congress firsthand, and very thankful that an organization as organized and helpful as Citizens’ Climate Lobby was there to schedule and set up everything for us. The abundance of knowledge and information provided by the staff members and guest speakers during the training day fully prepared us for the exciting day on Capitol Hill, and the practical skills we acquired will help prepare us for any future political endeavors we may embark on.
Kelvin C. Hoppel is a student at Chapman University, studying Environmental Science and Policy and Economics.