Virtual Audubon Advocacy Day 2021

Speak up for birds and our communities on June 10th, 2021

California Quail Photo: Rick Lewis

What's at Stake

We are excited to announce the Virtual Audubon Advocacy Day on Thursday, June 10, 2021. This year, state legislators are making important policy decisions that will dramatically impact millions of birds and California residents. Join us to speak up for birds and our communities!

How it Works

On Thursday, June 10th, participants in Virtual Advocacy Day will be invited to join video conferences with elected officials from their regions. During these calls, we will talk about the issues and bills that are a top priority for Audubon, including equitable access to nature, conservation ranching, migratory birds, and climate resilience. 

This is your chance to connect with state officials and make sure they hear from the Audubon network directly. Our staff will organize and facilitate the calls and provide you with all the information you need. Registration for Virtual Advocacy Day closed on May 15, 2021.

Download our Virtual Advocacy Day Toolkit for all you need to know about the day's events, talking points, and tips for talking with legislators!

Meeting Agenda

Below is a sample agenda for your meetings with legislators. Each meeting will be hosted by an Audubon staff member, who will provide the Zoom conference line and facilitate the meeting. Participants will volunteer to take one of the speaking roles identified below. Most meetings will be between 20-30 minutes. Because of the high registration numbers, it’s possible that not every participant will have a speaking role, but the Audubon facilitator will try to include all participants as completely as possible. For smaller groups, speakers may have more than one role.

1. Audubon participants sign onto the Zoom conference line at least 15 minutes ahead of the meeting schedule. If you are a constituent, please let the Audubon staffer know ahead of time.

2. Start the meeting (Audubon staff)

3. Introductions (Audubon staff): invite the legislator or legislative office staffer to introduce themselves. For large groups (more than 6 Audubon participants), we encourage everyone to introduce themselves in the chat. For smaller groups, you may take time for everyone to say their name and chapter affiliation (if any).

4. Item 1: Access to nature for all Californians is essential to our health and wellbeing (Speaker 1)

5. Item 2: California must invest in natural and working lands climate solutions now (Speaker 2)

6. Item 3: California has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use the state budget to invest in natural resources, biodiversity, and climate resilience. (Speaker 3)

7. Items 4 - 6: For Assembly meetings, please see the Assembly Talking Points, and for the Senate meetings, please see the Senate Talking Points (Speakers 4-6)

8. Wrap-up and thank yous (Speaker 7 or Audubon staffer). a.Invite the legislator or legislative staffer to a bird walk or another event.

Advocacy Training Webinars

Watch our online workshops to build skills in digital and remote advocacy and to dive deeper into key issues related to access to nature, conservation ranching, climate change, migratory birds, and environmental justice. Click on the titles below to watch the recordings.

Talking Points for Audubon's Priority Legislation

During calls with legislators, Audubon members will briefly discuss issues and legislation that directly impacts California's birds and communities. 

Below are talking points for key issues:

The Human Right to Nature 

  • During the pandemic, nature has been a refuge and source of health for millions of Californians, from watching birds through our windows to walking around our neighborhoods.

  • Lower-income areas and communities of color, already located in some of the most polluted sections of American cities, are three times more likely to lack immediate access to nature than surrounding areas.
  • Internationally, Nature is in crisis. Biodiversity is plummeting and the challenges to conserving nature will grow with climate change and other human-induced impacts.
  • California has lost over 90% of sensitive habitats such as wetlands, riparian corridors, and coastal sage scrub. We are rapidly losing grasslands and prime lands in our deserts too.
  • In order to support more resilient populations of wildlife species and sustainable human communities, we need to protect and manage more land for nature.

California Conservation Ranching 

  • We support saving grasslands birds and California’s threatened grasslands by improving land management practices.
  • We must assist ranching operators to implement practices that will protect, enhance, and restore rangelands and grasslands at a large scale. Many of the rangelands are on private land that is often not managed to benefit birds and other wildlife. 
  • This legislation recognizes that a significant portion of California’s 61 million acres of rangeland is in private hands, and so farms and ranches must be partners in preserving habitat, maintaining the diversity of our unique species, and addressing climate change.
  • The program would encourage regenerative agricultural practices similar to those promoted by Audubon’s Conservation Ranching initiative (ACR). The program partners with ranchers to adopt techniques, including rotation of pastureland and limited use of feeds other than the grass itself. The practices allow a variety of native grasses – with their extensive root systems, a potent carbon sink -- to grow and thrive by allowing grasslands to rest and recover.

State Budget & Birds

  • This year’s California budget surplus offers an important moment to act for the environment and climate resilience. However, we urge the state legislature to advance biodiversity protections and increase funding for important agencies like the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources.

  • Environmental agencies throughout the state must be adequately funded according to their statutory missions.

  • Cuts to environmental programs result in harm to efforts to protect biodiversity, improve air quality, provide clean water, and ensure all Californians have access to nature.
  • Outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism are also important parts of our state economy that will benefit from state action.
  • California is already losing biodiversity and facing immense environmental challenges due to climate change and other human activities. We should leverage this important opportunity to improve nature for all of our shared priorities.  

Climate Change and Natural Climate Solutions

  • We are already seeing the impacts of climate change in our communities, with increased wildfires, drought, and extreme heat events during the summer.

  • Audubon’s Survival by Degrees report found that 2/3rd of bird species in North America are at much greater risk of decline and extinction under current climate change models.

  • However, if we take action to mitigate climate change and build resilience, most of those species can be saved.
  • We urge you to be a champion for natural climate solutions, which are improvements in how we protect and manage land to use nature to capture carbon, reduce emissions, and create more habitat for wildlife.
  • We know that everyone’s attention is on the COVID-19 crisis right now, but we ask that you also keep in mind that we must continue to make progress in reducing the impacts from climate change and making our state and residents more resilient to its impacts.

Tips on Speaking with Legislators

In general, meetings with legislators are brief, so speakers should make sure every moment counts. A few key tips are:

  • Lead with what is important. Start with main points, then give background if appropriate and there is time.
  • Less is more. Stick to simple, clear messages and repeat them often.
  • Use plain language. Avoid overly technical terms, jargon, or acronyms.
  • Be responsive. Listen to the questions posed and let the discussion have a natural flow, but make sure you deliver the main message.

When meeting with an elected official, take the following steps:

  1. Be organized. Introduce yourself. If you are in a group, select one person to be the primary spokesperson for each bill or issue. 
  2. Identify yourselves as representing Audubon and your local chapters.
  3. Know your legislator. Research the background of your elected official(s). What personal interest do they have in your issue?
  4. Determine the legislators’ position. Ask the decision-maker(s) for some action or commitment: How will they vote? Will they take a stand for or against a proposal?
  5. Allow time for questions. Encourage questions and answer them factually. If you do not know the answer, offer to find out and get back to the legislator.
  6. Be courteous. Follow up with a thank you, in which you restate your position.
  7. Keep in mind that decision-makers have many issues to consider every day. Very few are experts on all issues. They rely upon you to give them good, accurate information, and they are interested in the views of their constituents.
  8. Thank the member and staff. Offer to follow up as necessary. Ask to take a picture at the end of the meeting.

For video conferences, especially if there are several participants, it can be difficult for everyone to speak up at will. For Advocacy Day, Audubon California staff will help teams identify speakers
for different parts of the discussion to avoid interruptions and to ensure we make the most of our time with the legislators and their staff count.

Thank you for joining us to speak up for birds and our communities and for all you do for Audubon!

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