This opportunity was a fantastic introduction to the to the workings of science, policy and government. I had minimal background in policy and this event was perfect for someone who is beginning to consider science/policy interactions as a career interest. The in-depth briefing prior to our meetings with members of Congress was enlightening and gave me a thorough introduction to the details of the federal science budget and funding needs for science, particularly the ecological sciences. In addition to gaining a greater understanding of the federal support for ecology, the various congressional meetings provided a fascinating glimpse into life on Capitol Hill. The group meetings with members of Congress were very positive, providing ample opportunities to interact with leading scientists and policymakers. It was also very energizing to have the chance to express your genuine dedication to increasing federal support for ecology. Our group came from a variety of fields that I might not have normally interacted with and it was surprisingly easy to blend our interests and perspectives together to achieving a common goal. Overall, it was a fantastic learning experience and I would highly recommend it to any graduate student who is interested in learning more about science/policy dynamics in a real-world setting.
Contributed by Dena Vallano, Cornell University graduate student and winner of the ESA Graduate Student Policy Award