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What I Gained During My Internship with LCV: An Advocacy Point of View

10 May 2016  |   Arian Rubio

Tags: General Environment

When I started my semester as a Policy & Lobbying Intern with the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), I strongly believed in the importance of environmental policy, and I had internship experience in both the House of Representatives with Rep. Rush Holt’s office and the Senate with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office, as well as other programs with the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence.  I was eager to use my understanding of the operations in government offices and my classroom work at the George Washington University to enact positive change through advocacy; LCV gave me the opportunities and tools to learn how to be an environmental advocate in Washington, D.C.

During my time at LCV, I experienced, first-hand, the range of tools that advocates use to affect policy change. I contacted hundreds of congressional offices about important environmental issues, often answering an office’s questions and concerns regarding a bill or letter or providing the information necessary to sign onto a bill or letter. For example, Reps. Schakowsky and Gallego wrote a letter opposing harmful policy riders—including attacks on the environment—in appropriations bills. I was tasked with reaching out to offices to urge them to sign the letter and protect spending bills from inappropriately placed policy provisions. It was particularly rewarding to know that a member of Congress took an action—such as signing a letter—partly because of my calls and emails and that I contributed to LCV’s environmental advocacy efforts. While I had previously experienced interactions between advocacy groups and congressional staff during my internships on Capitol Hill, my internship with LCV showed me how advocacy groups interact across multiple congressional offices to achieve a goal.

One of my favorite aspects of my internship with LCV was helping conduct research on members of Congress for the government affairs team. Every year, LCV scores members of Congress and holds them accountable for their environmental voting records in their National Environmental Scorecard, a valuable metric that helps constituents and stakeholders understand their representatives’ environmental record. During my internship, I participated in the production of the Scorecard by providing research and analysis of how Congress has changed, how different political coalitions have developed in terms of environmental policy, and how environmental politics and environmental policy interact. In addition to this work for the Scorecard, I researched the statements and positions of both supporters and opponents of environmental progress, so that constituents and stakeholders are aware of these members’ impacts.

Arian Rubio speaking in favor of the designation of the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument

My internship gave me a behind the scenes look at how policy is made and debated—in particular, I witnessed issue-based coalitions coming together to determine and strategize how to make their goals a reality. I attended many different congressional hearings and policy briefings, where I observed the political and policy considerations of policymakers and stakeholders as they advocated for their own constituencies and priorities. Furthermore, I was also given a front row seat to watch politics and policy intersect. At LCV, I attended interview meetings with congressional candidates seeking LCV’s endorsement and researched the organization’s endorsement history.  

I also feel passionate about diversifying the environmental movement, and I was particularly excited to help further LCV’s contribution to this effort. I wrote a blog post and participated in the public meeting to discuss the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum’s inclusion in the National Park System to ensure that it reflects the important work of the women’s equality movement. A week later, President Obama designated the site as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. The environmental movement and the women’s equality movement both sought to increase diversity in the National Parks System, and this experience showed me that people can come together to enact positive change, despite having different policy portfolios. 

I also observed LCV’s Chispa program, which engages Latino communities. Programs like Chispa ensure that the environmental movement incorporates solutions that benefit communities most affected by environmental injustices, especially since half of all Latinos in the United States live in the counties most burdened by pollution

LCV’s Alex Taurel, Gabe Frumkin, and Arian Rubio before a rally to stop offshore drilling

My experiences at LCV have informed my desire to pursue environmental advocacy, and in my professional and academic life, I am doing so. For example, the research that I completed as part of the internship gave me insight to issues of environmental justice, which I incorporated into my own studies. After attending a briefing on environmental justice in the Clean Power Plan, I turned my focus in my immigrations politics class to how the United States should enact just policies to deal with both the causes and effects of environmentally induced migration from Latin America. This is just one example of how I incorporated what I have learned at LCV with my own education and development.

I came to this internship knowing that I wanted to contribute to holding the government accountable to the people it serves, and I am leaving my internship with a stronger understanding of the ways environmental advocacy fundamentally affects many of the issues I care about, from public health to socioeconomic justice to migration policy.  While I am currently studying Political Science (Public Policy Focus) and Philosophy (Public Affairs Focus) with a minor in Economics, my internship at LCV influenced me to declare an additional minor in Sustainability—I would like to advance my understanding of environmental advocacy in an academic context. 

My internship at LCV convinced me to pursue other opportunities in the environmental community, and I know that as I move forward in other professional pursuits, I will have LCV to thank for sparking this passion; I look forward to continuing to contribute to making a cleaner, greener world a reality.

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