On Tuesday, June 5th, National LCV hosted its third Annual Young Leaders Lobby Day training, where youth from across twenty-nine states engaged in programming to teach effective lobbying strategies as well as empower them to find their voice in politics. NYLCV interns Molly Radwell and Raine Johnson attended the training.
One of the many events scheduled was a speech and Q&A with U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. He began by talking about his introduction to the environmentalist movement when a local beach he frequented as a child was closed due to leakage from a sewage treatment plant. From there he started to organize cleanups with small groups of friends and supported his state representatives as they worked to preserve Hawaii’s coastline. He said he felt driven by the increasing need for leadership and action and entered politics at age 25. Since then, he has been a powerful advocate for awareness and action, openly speaking about the moral responsibility of Congress in the fight against climate change.
Being the youngest member of Congress upon his swearing-in in 2014, Sen. Schatz mentioned how thrilled he was to have the opportunity to interact with emerging environmentalists. “I have two children in school – I am 45, I am not young,” the Senator said. He highlighted the integral part of youth in politics, the necessity of their passion and energy, and how their interests deserve amplification and attention as the essence of the future.
Sen. Schatz’s also spoke about his connection to the environment drawing from many components – its critical role in sustaining human life but also its unique and transformative character on human relations. “People will maybe think you’re crazy if you talk like that,” he acknowledged, “but it’s true.”
This deep and spirited relationship with nature has kept the Senator motivated. He recognized the daunting challenge inherent in environmental work and noted that since he started, he has encountered many individuals who’ve heavily discouraged his efforts. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of not being demoralized and encouraged the group to continue to add vigor, momentum, and strength to the growing environmental community.