Citizen Geoscientists Make Their Case on Capitol Hill
Nearly 40 geoscientists came from across the country to raise awareness among policymakers about the value of and the continued need for geoscience research, development, and education. The geoscientists were part of the sixteenth annual Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day (SET-CVD).
Scientists and engineers from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME), Soil Science Society of America (SSA), the Geological Society of America (GSA), and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership came to Washington, DC as part of the two-day annual event. They attended one day of workshops and educational briefings on federal science agencies, the budget process and Congress, followed by a day of meetings with members of Congress and their staff. In total, about 250 scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and technology executives promoted the core message: “Economic Recovery through Science and Engineering Research.”
At a morning workshop at AGU headquarters, the geoscientists were briefed on communicating with policymakers, congressional processes, the status of geoscience funding, and life on the Hill. At a seminar at AAAS headquarters in the afternoon, all SET-CVD participants were briefed on the President’s budget request for science and engineering.
The climax of the first day was the Science, Engineering, and Technology Working Group Reception in the Rayburn House Office Building. Twelve exhibitors from industry to academia showcased innovative research to members of Congress and their staffs. The American Geological Institute (AGI), AGU, and GSA co-sponsored an exhibit for Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). IRIS brought educational material and expertise to the congressional staff who were very interested in the applications of EarthScope, a NSF funded program to monitor and analyze the processes that cause earthquakes. With increased attention to earthquake hazards since the March Japanese tsunami disaster, IRIS’s booth attracted the most congressional staffers of the night.
The evening reception included an award ceremony to honor House Science and Technology Committee Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) for their continued support of science, especially their work in assuring the passage of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. The annual award is given in honor of the late Representative George E. Brown, Jr. a long time member of Congress who made outstanding contributions to Federal support for science and technology over a long and distinguished career in Congress.
The next day AGI, AGU, GSA, and Ocean Leadership staff members and the SET-CVD participants visited various congressional offices following two motivational morning speeches by Representatives Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Paul Tonko (D-NY). Fattah, Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, has been an ardent supporter of science and engineering research and education. Tonko, a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has sponsored many bills to support innovation and STEM education. With that rallying call, the scientists departed for visits with their congressional delegations.
We will be updating this page soon with a date for next year's 17th Annual Science*Engineering*Technology Congressional Visits Day. If you are interested in participating, please contact AGI's Government Affairs Program by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.