Our democracy works best when we take an active role in it. Letting elected leaders know what you think about important issues of the day is a great way to get started. Parents can help their children take this important first step by encouraging them to communicate their concerns to those who make decisions that will affect their future. The steps below are tailored to families interested in climate change, but they can guide you in approaching your Members of Congress regarding other environmental topics that you care about, too!
Help Your Children Write a Letter to Your U.S. Senators
Step 1: Look up the names of your U.S. Senators by entering your zipcode in the box below. You can pick one to send the letter to, or you can send a letter to each one (even better!).
Step 2: Address your envelope as follows:
The Honorable Senator's First & Last Name
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Step 3: Write your letter.
Help children express their concerns in their own words. Draw from your experiences as a family. Here are some ideas that will help you make your point. Don't try to use them all, but pick one or two that work for your family.
- Describe what kind of world you hope to have when you grow up.
- Are there plants, animals, or places that will be impacted by climate change that you are particularly interested in, such as polar bears, birds, islands, or frogs?
- What kinds of things are you already doing to help the planet and reduce your use of energy? Recycling? Riding your bike or walking to school? Turning off lights when you leave a room? Turning off your computer when you're not using it for a while? Let your Senator know that you're doing your part and she or he needs to pass strong climate legislation for your future.
- What have you learned about climate change in school? Pass some of that information along to your Senator. They need educating too!
Be sure to request a response! "Can we count on your support for a strong climate change bill and a better future for all the world's children?"
Tips for writing a letter with very young children:
- Ask your child to draw a picture of the planet they would like to live on when they grow up. You can then include a brief cover letter explaining the picture. Or have them do something "green" and draw a picture about that action.
- Ask your child one or two of the questions above and transcribe their responses. You can include a brief explanation at the beginning of your letter.
Learn more: Download our fact sheet on writing letters to Congress (501kb PDF).
Visit your Members of Congress at Home
Members of Congress regularly return home during breaks. This year, they will be home for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and virtually all of August. They also try to make it back to the state every weekend. If you want to meet with your Members of Congress face to face — absolutely the most effective way to show you care about an issue! — here are a few tips:
- Call the district or state office and request a meeting during the next recess break when your Senator or Representative is at home. Many Members of Congress are in the district Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday as well.
- The appointment secretary will want to know what the meeting is about and who will attend. Limit your agenda to only a couple of things, or better yet, one topic.
- Polite but firm persistence, pursued through regular contact with the district office, is essential. If you can’t get an appointment during the upcoming recess, express your disappointment and immediately request a firm commitment for the next time the Member of Congress is back home.
- Look for district office listings in the white pages under U.S. Government, call your representative’s Washington, D.C., office, check their web site (www.house.gov or www.senate.gov), or ask your Audubon Policy office, email@example.com, 202-861-2242 ext. 3036. You can also telephone your lawmakers through the U.S. Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121.
Learn more: Download our fact sheet on meeting with elected officials (481kb PDF).
Go Multimedia for Extra Fun!
What family doesn't have a video camera these days? You can use your camera and your child's creativity to record your child's concerns and pass them along. The YouTube link below was made by a little girl and her mom in Seattle and is truly remarkable. www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK1fbifyKsk
Put it on the Wall
The Alliance for Climate Protection has created the Wall, where short testimonials on the need for climate solutions can be posted. See what's been posted and upload your masterpiece at www.repoweramerica.org/wall
We're Here to Help!
Please feel free to contact Audubon's policy office if you have any questions about contacting your elected officials. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents, we hope you'll set a good example for your children and write our own letter to your Senators with your concerns and hopes for a cleaner, more secure, energy future. There's nothing complicated about writing lawmakers. Here are some basic tips:
- Be polite!
- Your letter does not need to be long or complicated.
- Explain how climate change concerns you and your family or your community.
- Ask for action! What do you want your lawmakers to do? What solutions do you seek?
- Stick to one topic. If you have other concerns, save those for another day.
You can send a postal letter (see address under Step 2), log on to your Senator's website and use their "contact us" form to send your comments, or call the Capitol Switchboard — 202-224-3121 — and ask for your Senator by name.
If you are short on time, you can send our sample letter — you can send it as is or add your own words to personalize it.
However you do it, the key is to communicate your concerns to elected officials. They very much need to know what you think!