‘I’m calling because you applied for a summer job with us’
For over 40 years, our partners at the Fund for the Public Interest have launched public education and citizen outreach programs on our behalf and that of like-minded organizations just as students finish up the school year and look for a summer job. This summer, hundreds of young people (along with the young at heart) will fan out across the nation to educate the public about issues from the plight of the bees to the proliferation of single-use plastics. They will help hundreds of thousands of people realize that the solutions to these problems are in reach, if only more people get involved. They will gather petitions, letters, photos on social media. and contributions to fuel our campaigns. Our legislative staff in state capitols and Washington, D.C., will work to turn that grassroots support and action into policy change. It’s amazing how the right grassroots push can put an issue on the policy agenda or get it over the finish line. We have hundreds of great examples over the years, involving everything from protection of our national forests to promotion of renewable energy.
But before each young (or young at heart) person knocks on a door, they have to be recruited, hired, trained and inspired to keep doing the hard work of knocking on one door after another, night after night, all summer long. That’s why I’ve been helping out with the very first step: recruiting staff.
Prospective staff apply online and we call them back. I spent a few hours calling last week and signed up over a dozen people for in-person interviews.
Some of the people I spoke with are just looking for a job, any job. But far more people felt a connection to our campaign to save the bees by restricting the use of bee-killing pesticides. Some feel passionate about saving bees and saving the planet. One person just loves gardening. Another is studying political science. Another was involved with a YMCA government program where they learned how to lobby. Someone else is just so concerned about the state of the world that they want to make a difference, any way they can. Not all of these good people will be hired or will love the job. But a handful of them will become lifelong environmentalists, organizers and political leaders with well-honed outreach skills.
When our members ask what gives me hope that we can solve issues like saving species or stopping climate change, one source I cite is the number of other people, like them, who are deeply concerned about the state of the planet. As long as people who care are willing to do what we can, whether that is spending an entire summer knocking on doors or being willing to make a contribution when that canvasser comes to our door, we all have reason to hope for a cleaner, greener world.