February 28th, 2013 by

The Green Budget — a document published every year to illustrate the effect of federal conservation funding and programs on our public lands and ecosystems — debuts today, and I’m out getting it in senators’ and representatives’ hands. Well, to be more accurate, I get to help put it into their staffers’ hands. Still, this will be my first time advocating on my own, and I’m excited.

Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. Credit: Michael Colburn

I started interning at American Forests less than a month ago, and through a whirlwind of meetings, research, writing and assisted advocating, I’m getting a handle on the conservation world. Today, I get to find out if I’ve learned enough to avoid embarrassing myself on the Hill.

The Green Budget that I’ll be distributing is the product of more than 30 environmental organizations, including American Forests, National Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society. American Forests’ senior director of programs and policy, Rebecca Turner, Esq., penned a majority of the Green Budget section related to U.S. Forest Service programs. It serves as a guide to the conservation programs that exist throughout the federal government and is meant for members of Congress, as well as for any organization or individual interested in environmental issues. The Green Budget shows the impacts of federal conservation funding on the nation’s lands, waters, natural resources and clean energy resources. It showcases the programs those of us in conservation care about, and it reveals how much those programs depend upon their already reduced, federal funding.

With the threat of sequestration looming, the Green Budget is more important than ever. And that’s why, although I’m excited for today’s advocating, I’m also nervous. There’s something about talking with a guy who reports directly to a representative who votes in the U.S. Congress that makes your work feel important. I mean, policy is (or isn’t) happening here — and either way, that has some significant effects. I expect to leave Capitol Hill exhausted and satisfied at the end of today. With a full schedule, a stack of Green Budgets and rampant excitement and nervousness, I am ready for a day of advocating.