Hill Day: Join the Fight for Science Funding
For almost a decade, neuroscientists have visited members of Congress each year during SfN’s Capitol Hill Day to express their support for U.S. science funding. Last year, 45 SfN members from 26 states met with more than 70 congressional offices to discuss the latest advances in the field of neuroscience and share the economic and public health benefits of investment in scientific and biomedical research. This year, the tradition will continue on March 26 — and there is still time for you to add your voice by RSVPing for Hill Day to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hurry, because space is limited.
An in-person meeting is one of the most effective actions a constituent can take — and it can actually lead to an enduring relationship with a legislator. Even a missed connection can lead to a later meeting. Although she was unable to secure a time to meet with Rep. Mike Honda’s office on Hill Day, Katie Wilkinson, an assistant professor at San Jose State University, successfully leveraged that scheduling conflict into a lab tour for a health policy staffer from the California Democrat’s office a few months later.
Anatomy of a Hill Day
SfN makes it easy for even a first-time advocate to contribute to Hill Day. The event begins the night before with a reception and training session at SfN headquarters. Participants hear from notable speakers — previous years featured Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health; Story Landis, then-director of the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Participants then gather in groups and learn how to conduct a meeting with legislators. The Meeting With Your Legislator webinar provides more detail on what the discussions entail. Other SfN advocacy resources are available at SfN.org/usadvocacy.
On Hill Day, groups of three to five SfN members, along with a staff guide, meet with representatives, senators, and their staff, visiting up to six offices in one day. During the meetings, the participants, who come from all career stages, relay personal stories and share vital information about the state of funding for NIH and NSF.
Members of Congress are receptive to these messages, with many voicing strong support for scientific research. Thomas Crockett, a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis, commented that Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) “seemed to really care about what we were saying and listened to us until he was called out of the office by a pending vote.” Angela Pierce, a graduate student at the University of Kansas Medical Center, agreed: “Congressmen understand the fundamental importance that is science in society.”
Advocate From Home
If you are unable to come to Washington, DC, you can still take action. Members of Congress increasingly use social media to communicate with their constituents. Calling your legislator is also a fast and easy way to communicate your position on an issue. To find your federal legislators’ contact information, go to SfN’s Action Center and enter your zip code into the appropriate box.