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2018 Advocacy Kick-off: January 11

While Congressional appropriations still are not finalized for FY 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018), we generally know the contours of our challenges and work ahead in 2018. We offer this update to get you excited for an active year and encourage your participation in advocacy for EE.  Early Warning: this coming year, we’re going to ask you for a modest, focused amount of time, and a “2 for 1 match”. No, not for your money, but for your time! Help us match your good work by asking two colleagues/friends/family members to join in and become advocates for EE!

What’s in Store for 2018
There are a number of old and new agenda items we’ll be rolling out over the course of the year. Our annual federal appropriations support for EPA and NOAA and monitoring state implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act will continue. We expect federal climate education legislation to be re-introduced this year and we aim to support those of you pursuing state EE policies as appropriate. As usual, we’ll need a modest amount of your focused help a few times during the year to advance our agenda - starting this month.  The more allies we can recruit to speak up for EE, and the earlier in January we can connect/reconnect with our legislators, the better.

While we are a modest network of organizations and individuals advocating for EE, our strength has always been that our institutions/organizations are important and beloved in our communities.  Over the years, we have found wide support for the field, especially when we demonstrate local impacts. You all have great stories to tell that are local and personal about education that is essential to our communities. These stories and personal connections are key to our success! It really only takes a few dedicated advocates, making the right connections in each district at the right time, to sway opinions, keep objections at bay, and even turn our representatives in to EE champions.

Legislators will set their 2018 agendas early in the year, so now is the very best time to connect with or recruit other advocates in your area, and engage your representatives and their staff around the value EE.  Materials for you to use in your initial outreach will be posted at https://naaee.org/eepro/groups/advocacy soon.

January 11th Environmental Ed Call: Advocacy 101 & Organizing for 2018 - Please Share!
Please join us for our 2018 EE Advocacy kick-off call and invite your colleagues, partners, and friends. Please post the text below to your networks and platforms.
Environmental Education Call - Advocacy Basics, 2018 Organizing, and Update
Thursday, January 11th, 1-2 pm ET
This year will be a year of challenges and opportunities for environmental education.  The field itself is stronger than ever, but government support is being challenged by the instability of the appropriation processes locally and nationally.  Join NAAEE for an hour of organizing, training, and policy updates on January 11th.  This call will cover our preliminary policy agenda for the year, advocacy basics, and tips for getting organized for action. Link to join the call: https://zoom.us/j/819855625  To learn more or get on our once-a-month list, sign up for eePRO at https://naaee.org/user/login and join the advocacy group https://naaee.org/eepro/groups/advocacy.  A recording of the session will posted on the NAAEE eePRO advocacy section.  No RSVP required.

FY 2018 Appropriations: No Resolution Yet
Last spring, the president’s FY 2018 budget proposal eliminated funding for lots of important activities-- including environmental education.  Fortunately, Congress has the ultimate responsible for appropriations, and so far some key leaders think FY 2018 federal funding should look a lot like previous years - which is much better news for EE.  In light of the fine job you all did last spring on appropriations committee support letters, we are cautiously optimistic that it will turn out relatively well for the field.

Currently, there are two paths Congress could take in the next few weeks.  They can come to a deal based on a reconciliation of the House and Senate appropriations proposals, though there are number of issues around which there is a lack of consensus even within parties. In the event they are unable to strike a deal in the next three weeks, they’ll pass yet another “continuing resolution” (CR) which will just continue funding at last year’s levels, with minor changes. We shall see!

If a brand new spending plan passes for 2018, here’s what we know about what the relevant committees came up with: House appropriators only included a minimal amount of EE funding--eliminating the EPA Office of Environmental Education (OEE) entirely, and diverting NOAA B-WET funding to a specific earmark for participatory ocean education.  The Senate appropriators did retain the OEE at a 90% funding level, but did not set a specific amount for the NOAA programs. Fortunately, key Senators and Senate committee staff continue to champion our cause, insisting that the 2018 budget for EE match 2017.  Further, some House committee staff have said that if the Senate presses for the EE funding in reconciliation negotiations, the House will likely go along with it.  Nobody knows where the process will ultimately lead, but we’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

Huge Thanks to all Advocates this Past Year! Please Pass on the Thanks to Your Legislators
Advocates for EE did a great job last year--our best ever in terms of outreach to legislators, focused connections with appropriations committees leadership and staff, and garnering the most Congressional support for EE appropriations in the past ten years. As mentioned above, we still don’t know the outcome of FY 2018 spending, but whichever way it goes, we established a much broader and deeper base of support than we ever had before.

Please take a few minutes this week or next to send a public and/or personal thanks to your legislator and staff if they’ve stepped up for EE in 2017.  Instructions for doing so are here, https://goo.gl/mZGfsy, including a link to individual voting records and support so you can see if they deserve a thanks!

Thank you to everyone for helping to secure the future of environmental education!
Brock Adler, Chair, Advocacy Committee, NAAEE
Sarah Bodor, Director of Policy and Affiliate Relations, NAAEE