By Siri Doddapaneni
On March 23rd, 2022, JuSTEMagine board members and volunteers journeyed to the Nebraska Capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska. The primary purpose: to advocate for the passage of bill LB112 which promoted computer science and technology education within Nebraskan schools. The team met with senators representing several districts around Nebraska and pitched them the benefits of the passage of LB112. Fast forward a few weeks, LB112 was successfully passed by the Nebraska legislature, and almost all the senators JuSTEMagine spoke to voted in favor of the bill. JuSTEMagine plans to host another advocacy conference in the spring of 2023, and board members and volunteers prepared for the event by attending a Legislative Advocacy Training Session.
The training session, which took place on September 16, 2022, lasted for one and a half hours and was organized by JuSTEMagine’s Director of Legislative Advocacy, Aanya Mishra. The guest speaker at the event was Lane Carr, Administrator for the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives in Nebraska. Carr has experience in legislative and student advocacy and explained to the attendees the most important parts of advocacy. He also explained different tactics to employ while advocating, including how to define and research a problem, prepare a product, tips for talking, and what to do post-meeting.
At the end of his presentation, Carr asked attendees to put into use what they learned and come up with a short pitch to show him. Attendees spoke on a variety of topics, including LBGTQ+ youth rights around the state, the treatment of Nebraska’s elderly population, and the allocation of educational funding, to which Carr gave helpful feedback and proposed counterarguments to deal with tough questions.
The 3 main steps to student legislative advocacy that Carr spoke about are:
Prepare: Find and define a problem. Research about the issue and the policymaker.
Pitch and Product: Create a product such as a handout. Speak clearly and concisely.
Post-work: Follow up with and thank the policymaker. Reflect on the conversation.
The 2022 Fall Legislative Advocacy Training Session was a great success, and JuSTEMagine board members and volunteers are well-prepared to advocate for STEM education and equality in their state. JuSTEMagine’s Nebraska Chapter is hosting a Legislative Advocacy Conference at the Nebraska Capitol in the spring of 2023, so stay tuned!!