Outdoor Nation wrapped up its 4th annual National Congress in June, where millennials from across the nation gathered together in Washington D.C. to speak out about outdoor issues that need to be addressed. They spent two days meeting and working with national decision makers, impacting the youth of America in a huge way.
Edd Duran was one of the delegates that attended the National Congress in Washington D.C. He shared his experience and how it not only opened his eyes to the importance of the issues at hand, but how young people can play an integral part by sharing their passion for the outdoors and reaching out to policy makers in their own cities.
Courtney Lambert: How did you first connect with Outdoor Nation and the National Congress?
Edd Duran: The first time would be 3 years ago, I was a Merrell delegate for the NYC ON-IT summit and got a call about a month later asking to be on the youth council and was told they were going to fly us down to D.C. to advocate for policy change.
CL: What were you lobbying for in Washington D.C.?
ED: Basically all of the policies that are in effect that we care about, such as the land water conservation act, and basically telling politicians how important the outdoor economy is as part of the global economy.
CL: What was your first experience lobbying in D.C. like?
ED: I actually was on the team that spoke to the representatives from Maryland, which was kind of an easier task because Maryland is a pretty cool state in that regard. They were already on board with many of the policies we were trying to talk about. But I know that some of the other teams had a difficult time and felt brushed off at times.
CL: What did you learn from your 2 days working with the other ON Leadership Council members?
ED: The biggest thing is that these people are willing to listen to you, and a small group of people can make a difference. The politicians were telling us that we were definitely doing the right thing- if these are things we care about then taking the time to visit them, email them and just tell them we care makes a difference. I guess I had never had that experience before because sometimes you feel like you are just one person that cares and you can’t really make a difference.
CL: What was the most memorable part of the experience for you?
ED: Being part of the youth council was really cool because there were teams from all over the country, so getting to come together in D.C. to influence the politicians is really cool, and just the fact that they took the time to listen to us and were very supportive of the issues at hand.
CL: Would you recommend others to attend? If so, for what reason?
ED: Yes, I would definitely recommend it. It was a big eye opener for me and pretty much every time I have done something with ON it has been an eye opening experience. In my area- there’s not a lot of outdoorsy people and it’s really cool to see that are like minded people that are willing to come together and put their brains together to make something happen. That’s why I fell in love with ON.