Meet your elected officials face-to-face
The most effective way to speak up for reserves and impact relevant policy is to meet your elected officials face-to-face. Take the opportunity to tell your locally elected officials how much you value the reserve in your community or state. Thank them for supporting the reserve and describe at least one reason why you care about the place. Reach out to both state and federal officials—your Congressional representatives have an office near you.
Send a letter to your elected officials
Your elected officials want and need to hear from you on issues you consider important. Personal messages allow you to present your position without interruption. Keep your letter to one page, one issue, and state its purpose in the first paragraph. Always be courteous. Close your letter by asking for a written response. You can send the letter through email or fax when a vote or decision on an issue is imminent. Be sure to include your fax number on your letter in case your lawmaker decides to fax you back. Mailing letters to members of Congress has become more difficult in these days of heightened security at the U.S. Capitol and in our country. While written letters have a personal impact and are easily the most powerful way to communicate with legislators outside of a personal visit, they can also take the longest to reach a legislator.
Write a letter to an editor
Studies show that people read the letters to editors more than they read editorials by journalists. Check your local paper’s guidelines for writing letters. Be sure to include your name, address, and telephone number on your submission. Address your letter “Dear Editor.” Keep it to half a page or less and one topic. State the purpose in the first paragraph. By discussing current issues, your letters stand a better chance of getting printed. Don’t be discouraged if your letter is not accepted; most publications receive more letters than they can print. But keep trying!
Call a talk show
Calling a television or radio talk shows in your area will convey your message to thousands of listeners. If you regularly tune into such a program and the topic is relevant to coastal environments, call in to offer an opinion, ask a question, or tell a story related to the reserves. It helps to jot down a few notes in case you get “stage fright.” Also, try contacting the program to urge them to cover a specific reserve-related issue. Provide contact information for your local reserve. If they take you up on the idea, be sure to inform your friends and family, and encourage them to listen and actively participate in the show.