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L-R: Kasey White, GSA Director for Geoscience Policy, GSA President Suzanne Kay, AGU member and Ph.D. student Anastacia Yanchilina, and NESTA Executive Director Roberta Johnson discuss strategy before a meeting with Senator Gillibrand (D-NY).

Kasey White, GSA Director for Geoscience Policy, GSA President Suzanne Kay, AGU member and Ph.D. student Anastacia Yanchilina, and NESTA Executive Director Roberta Johnson discuss strategy before a meeting with Senator Gillibrand (D-NY).

Geoscientists Shake Up Capitol Hill

More than 70 geoscientists from 12 societies came to Washington, D.C., to advocate for geoscience funding, including representatives from the GSA Executive Committee and Geology and Society Division leadership, as part of Geosciences Congressional Visits Day (GEO-CVD) on 17–18 September 2013. Participants held about 150 meetings with Members of Congress and their staff to discuss the importance of geoscience education and research to the nation.

USGS Coalition Leadership Award winner Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) speaks about his love of maps and their importance to Oregon

USGS Coalition Leadership Award winner Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) speaks about his love of maps and their importance to Oregon.

Kasey White presents the USGS Coalition Leadership Award to Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) for his support of hazard and other USGS research.

Kasey White presents the USGS Coalition Leadership Award to Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) for his support of hazard and other USGS research.

Suzanne O’Connell discusses geoscience research with Senator Blumenthal (D-CT).

Suzanne O’Connell discusses geoscience research with Senator Blumenthal (D-CT).

The day before the visits, participants attended a half-day workshop on current policy issues and communication techniques. GSA Director for Geoscience Policy Kasey White briefed participants on the federal budget status, and other geopolicy professionals provided overviews of current legislation, the organization and structure of Congress, and strategies to build relationships between scientists and policymakers. The workshop, organized by GSA and other geoscience societies, also featured a bipartisan panel of Congressional Science Fellows who shared their insights on how to conduct effective meetings from their time working on Capitol Hill.

Participants were placed into teams based on their geographic location and accompanied on congressional visits by a scientific society staff member. GSA President Suzanne Kay joined with AGU member and Ph.D. student Anastacia Yanchilina and NESTA Executive Director Roberta Johnson for visits with the New York congressional delegation. In addition to geoscience research, Kay discussed seismic research with staff from Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-NY) office. Collins plans to introduce legislation to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. GSA President-elect Hap McSween and GSA Executive Director Jack Hess met with the Tennessee delegation and added nuclear waste disposal, space research, and STEM education discussions to their list of topics. GSA Geology and Society Division Incoming Chair Suzanne O’Connell met with a number of legislators and staff from Connecticut. A highlight of the visits was having Senator Murphy (D-CT) recite many of the geomorphic features he remembered from his earth science class. O’Connell noted the importance of being able to provide congressional leaders with personal stories about the importance of funding and the harm being caused by the sequester.

Participants were also invited to attend the annual USGS Coalition awards and reception, which took place on Capitol Hill after the training workshop. At the reception, White presented the 2013 USGS Coalition Leadership Awards to Reps. Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) for their sustained efforts to champion the scientific programs of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). More than 200 senior USGS and Department of the Interior officials, Members of Congress and staff, and representatives of national organizations that use and support USGS science and information attended the reception.

The next congressional visits day will take place in the spring. Please contact Kasey White if you are interested in participating in this or other future congressional visits day.

— Kasey White

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