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Prepare a field station or lab tour for your legislators

Prepare a field station or lab tour for your legislators

Hosting a lawmaker at your institution is an excellent way to demonstrate the importance of federal funding for scientific research. You will have direct access to the official and staffers to talk about the exciting research being done at your institution and how government support is important for researchers as well as the entire community.

Step 1: Identify your lawmakers

Each person in the U.S. is represented by one representative and two senators. You can find out who represents you on the House and Senate websites. Consider inviting both the representatives for your institution and the representatives for your field station, if they are different.

If your field station or lab works with state agencies – or does research relevant to state policy, you can also identify your state lawmakers at or on your state’s website.

Step 2: Develop an itinerary

Prior to contacting your elected officials, devise a plan for showing them around. Who will be accompanying them on the tour? Which parts of your field station or lab should they see? How long will each activity take? How will they access your field station and how long will it take to travel to the site? Will there be a sit-down portion? Prepare to be flexible with your plans, as legislators’ calendars often change at the last minute. Also be sure to get the necessary permissions from your institution’s government relations office.

You can also invite your lawmakers to any open house or field trip events you have planned.

Step 3: Schedule a tour

Call your legislators’ regional offices to find out when they will be in town. You also can email the ESA Public Affairs Office for help setting up a tour.

Step 4: Do some research, practice and prepare for your tour

Before you meet, make sure you’ve done your homework. Here are some general talking points about federal agency funding.

How does your state(s) and district(s) benefit from biological and ecological research? The ESA public affairs staff can provide stats about the benefits of research and help researching to your lawmakers.

Also, review our tips for communicating with Congress.

Step 5: Host the tour

Put your research and preparation into practice, and then, as the meeting concludes, leave your lawmaker with some information about the importance of research. Here are some fliers you can print out:

Contact the ESA public affairs staff for more leave-behind materials or advice on how best to use them.

Step 6: Follow up with the office

Write a note thanking the official and/or staff member for meeting with you, see the “meeting with your member of Congress” page for tips and ideas.