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Environmental Advocacy

Check out this website for more general information
http://www.environmentalprograms.net/guidance/env-advocacy/

What is “environmental advocacy?”

The term “environmental advocacy” refers to a wide variety of careers, avocations, and activities. It includes work in certain forms of environmental law and environmental policy, careers with mainstream environmental groups (such as Sierra Club or the Nature Conservancy), working with other advocacy groups (such as P.I.R.G.s), and being a part of more radical activist groups. The focus could be on human use of nature, such as in regional or urban planning. It also includes more personal advocacy, such as writing letters to the editor, going to community meetings, and participating in protests.

What does an environmental advocate do?

  • Lobby for environmental legislation.
  • Work with the media.
  • Organize environmental events.
  • Recruit and retain members in an advocacy organization.
  • Raise funds for environmental advocacy.
  • What types of organizations hire for environmental advocacy?
  • Nonprofit environmental groups, such as Audubon Society and Sierra Club

Local community organizations

In their report "Activism as a Profession," National Public Radio stated that increasing numbers of college-age people are thinking about making their careers in the growing field of public interest advocacy and grassroots organizing. Environmental Careers Organization now lists community organizing as one of the twelve most dynamic environmental career opportunities in the decades ahead.

What does it take to become an effective environmental advocate?

Knowledge

Environmental science: The more science you know, the more effective you can be in your advocacy and activism. Ideally take a course in statistics: you may rather study trees, but numbers affect what politicians and corporations do with trees.

Social systems: It is society that is wreaking havoc on the environment, in particular certain social systems and structures. Knowledge of economics, politics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and history – including the international arena -- is invaluable in making positive changes in society.

Values: Too often those that make decisions about the environment are oblivious to the issues of value involved. I once came across an old college buddy after 25 years. He works at the World Bank, and when he asked me what I was doing, I mentioned “environmental philosophy.” “What’s that?” he said, quite puzzled. The World Bank and many environmental advocates could really use some environmental philosophy, including an awareness of our ethical relationship to nature, the importance of religious world views in public policy, and the significance of aesthetic values in deciding economic issues.

Skills

Effective advocacy and activism depends on a variety of different skills.

  • Membership recruitment and retention. This is a critical and difficult skill that takes both training and experience.
  • Running an effective meeting, and helping others to run an effective meeting. This includes preparations for the meeting, ability to reach consensus (using Robert Rules of Order if called for), making others feel empowered and useful, etc.
  • Organizing events: both creatively designing and efficiently coordinating events. There are special skills involved in organizing events in a way that maximizes their positive impact and is able to deal with problems as they arise.
  • Conflict resolution and negotiation, the ability to make the best of difficult situations.
  • Community building, within your group or organization, and coalition-building among various groups, especially given various types of differences.
  • Multicultural interchange: the ability to work positively with diverse cultures and ethnic groups and cultivate their support.
  • Public speaking: the ability to articulate your views efficiently and positively in various formats, including a speech, a panel, a debate, and group discussion – both with your colleagues and those who oppose you.
  • Clear and persuasive writing, both analytical and persuasive, both short and long.
  • Analytical skills: the ability to analyze political and environmental situations and to uncover creative solutions, drawing on the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
  • Working with the media: the ability to speak effectively to the media, whether in extended interviews or short sound bites; the ability to keep the media informed of events and persuade them to cover those events; “spindoctoring”; the ability to develop long-term positive relations with reporters.
  • Education: the ability to devise and offer workshops that train others in advocacy.
  • Fundraising, from successful grant-writing to soliciting donations.
  • Budgeting: creating them and overseeing them.
  • Ability to learn from new situations and develop expertise “on the run.”
  • Computer skills: word-processing, spread sheets, data bases, and computer presentations.
  • Job application skills: resumes, cover letters, interviews, etc.
  • Networking: the ability to expand and retain connections.
  • Languages, particularly Spanish.

Experience

If you want to be effective in changing the world, you should have accumulated a range of different kinds of experience.

  • Organizational work as a leader in student groups and an organizer of events.
  • Volunteer work with environmental and political organizations. This gives you valuable experience and demonstrates your commitment.
  • Internships with organizations dealing with politics or the environment, in particular advocacy groups.
  • Related work in conflict resolution and community building.
  • Work experience in environmental advocacy, both summer work and professional work after graduation.
  • Experience with protests give you a sense of their possibilities and limitations, as well as the challenges of large scale organizing.

Qualities

  • Advocacy and activism calls for special qualities that you need to develop.
  • A strong commitment to the well-being of the environment, including a strong desire to work against those who are destructive of nature and work toward a positive alternative.
  • An inclusive vision: a recognition of the social and political nature of environmental issues.
  • Ability to combine strong idealism with practicality and a recognition of the constraints situations might have.
  • Attention to details in getting things done, and done the right way.
  • Perseverance, in the face of political setbacks, interpersonal problems within the group, difficult personal circumstances (thus avoiding burnout, numbness, and rage).
  • Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity, including a recognition of different viewpoints.
  • Ability to deal constructively with those who views you disagree with.
  • Self-knowledge, a sensitive and honest awareness of one’s own strengths, limitations, and deepest interests. That means both humility and a clear knowledge of abilities.
  • Dependability, in getting work done and in morality.
  • Ability to work both independently and cooperatively.
  • Leading when it is called for, and following when that is appropriate.
  • Tendency and ability to support and empower others.
  • Ability to learn from one’s mistakes.

So what should I do in college?

  • Environmental advocates need a broad understanding of environmental issues, which you can obtain with a major in Environmental Studies.
  • It is very helpful to double major in a field that will give you a depth of knowledge and advanced skills, such as Economics, Political Science, or Communication.
  • Gain practical experience in environmental advocacy.
  • Develop skills and qualities mentioned above.

Do I need to get a graduate degree?

Many people go into advocacy without graduate study. However, if you want to maximize your impact, your ability to get a good job, and your pay, and masters degree can be helpful. You can also benefit from a masters degree in a specific discipline, such as Communication, Economics, or Political Science.

What are some examples of actual job listings in environmental advocacy?

Legislative Advocate

Background: The Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) is a statewide multi-issue public interest advocacy organization. Our staff works to protect consumers, preserve the environment, protect public health and make our democracy work for citizens rather than moneyed special interests. We research problems, write reports, work with the media, build coalitions, lobby decision-makers, and conduct grassroots organizing and litigation. Founded in 1987, Illinois PIRG has more than 15,000 citizen members across the state.

Responsibilities:

Advocacy: Responsible for representing Illinois PIRG on a broad range of public interest issues in the State Legislature. Meets one on one with elected officials to build relationships and persuade decision makers about the merits of our case.

Research: Responsible for initiating and conducting research to investigate public interest concerns and writing reports documenting problems and promoting solutions.

Coalition Building: Responsible for building working relationships with other organizations, lobbyists, elected officials, agency staff, and various groups with shared interests in public interest issues.

Generate Media Attention: Responsible for cultivating relations with key reporters and editorial staff at major newspapers, television and radio stations, in Springfield, Chicago, and across the state. Responsible for organizing news conferences and editorial board meetings and writing news releases and op-ed pieces on a regular basis.

Organization Building: Raises money for the organization and key projects from foundations and individuals, recruits and trains staff and activists. Helps keep administrative and organizational systems in place.

Qualifications: Qualified applicants have a strong commitment to public interest issues, excellent verbal, writing and analytical skills, the ability to debate and speak persuasively in a charged atmosphere, and enthusiasm for the work. Candidates for this position should have three to eight years of relevant professional experience, post college. Relevant experience includes (but is not limited to) working in political, policy, legal, journalistic, or government settings.

Terms: Salary for this position is commensurate with the amount of relevant professional experience that a candidate has: salary could range from $26,000 to $35,000 and up. A competitive benefits package includes health care coverage, educational loan assistance, a retirement plan, paid vacation and sick days, parental leave. Opportunities for advancement, travel, and additional training are available.

Campaign Field Managaer

Background: We are a national citizen’s organization working for clean, safe and affordable drinking water, prevention of health- threatening pollution, creation of environmentally safe jobs and businesses, and empowerment of people to make democracy work. For more than 30 years, our strategy has been to build grassroots strength in communities by organizing voters on critical environmental issues and election campaigns. We mobilize citizens door-to-door, town-to-town, recruiting members and volunteers, raising funds, generating letters, and winning elections through voter education and mobilization.

Description: Get citizens involved in the political process and fight for clean air, clean water, and livable communities. Train for a leadership role, manage teams, organize communities door-to-door, recruit members, identify voters and volunteers, and engage citizens in grassroots lobbying. Training available in organizational and campaign management.

Qualifications: Experience in any of the above responsibilities helpful, but not required. Strong communication skills and motivation a must.

Terms: $21,000-$23,000 depending on experience and qualifications, plus bonus, benefits and paid training.

Campaign Director

Background: We are a national citizen’s organization working for clean, safe and affordable drinking water, prevention of health- threatening pollution, creation of environmentally safe jobs and businesses, and empowerment of people to make democracy work. For more than 30 years, our strategy has been to build grassroots strength in communities by organizing voters on critical environmental issues and election campaigns. We mobilize citizens door-to-door, town-to-town, recruiting members and volunteers, raising funds, generating letters, and winning elections through voter education and mobilization.

Description: Help build a powerful movement to fight the Bush Administration’s extreme attacks on the environment. Run an innovative office as you lead and motivate a team of community organizers mobilizing citizens on issue campaigns door-to-door, recruiting members, fund-raising, writing letters and grassroots lobbying.

Qualifications: Previous experience as an organizer, campaign manager, field or phone canvass director preferred. Strong leadership, organizing, communication and management skills are essential.

Terms: Starting at $24,000 plus benefits, paid training. Canvass Directors can expect to earn $25,000 to $35,000 first year, depending on responsibilities and performance.

Community Organizer

Background: We organize across Arkansas to help grassroots citizens form community groups and get involved in the political process. We develop new groups as well as support many already established ones through organizing and training. We facilitate networking between groups so they can connect to each other’s work. We are multi-issue, working most often with communities that have been left out of the political process on issues of: the environment, civil rights, economic fairness, government accountability, agriculture, consumer protection, and more. The Panel also supports a statewide, multi-issue and non-partisan coalition of over 60 community organizations that are working together for progressive changes in state policy. Program goal: Increase citizen involvement and power in the political process in order to correct the imbalance between citizens and agri-industrial corporations in the development of public policy.

Responsibilities:

  • Lead organizer will understand relationship building in the context of community organizing, and will help other staff develop and carry out organizing strategies
  • Work with existing grassroots groups to help them build membership, develop skills and pursue progressive policy reforms
  • Organize new grassroots groups and encourage them to join the Arkansas Citizens First Congress
  • Invite groups to participate in assessment and training sessions; set up training sites, dates, etc.
  • Maintain relationships and stay up to date with a broad range of community groups
  • Provide access for groups to obtain research information from state and federal agencies
  • Solicit information from community leaders, companies, industries, teachers, farmers, activists, etc. to help build context for new and existing groups
  • Communicate to the general public about the project
  • Coordinate informational mailings
  • Help develop and maintain mailing lists, newspaper clippings, etc.
  • Participate in other related regional initiatives, especially those with community development focus at the request of the Executive Director

Qualifications:

  • Proven accomplishments coordinating projects or community events
  • Communication skills both phone and personal contact
  • Participate in, and occasionally lead, community meetings
  • Access to an automobile, and be willing to travel statewide
  • Experience with word processing on PC computers
  • Spanish not required, but a definite plus
  • Commitment to developing leaders and community group strength rather than leading group activities
  • Ability to work independently and to relate well to diverse groups of citizens
  • Strong Commitment to social change

Terms: $20,000+ DOE. Lead organizer slightly higher, DOE. Excellent benefits includes leave time and health insurance.

Outreach Coordinator

Background: The Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund (IECEF) and its affiliate the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC) are seeking an Outreach Coordinator. IECEF and IEC are 28 year-old organizations that promote sound environmental laws and policies, provide a forum for environmentalists and facilitate a statewide activist network. IECEF engages in legislative monitoring and analysis; outreach, organizing and coalition building; and communication and education. IEC performs legislative advocacy and serves as the environmental community's eyes, ears and voice in Springfield.

Responsibilities:

  • Coordinate outreach, organizing and coalition building activities.
  • Staff and support coalitions working on Clean Water and other issues.
  • Lobby the Illinois General Assembly and state agencies on environmental issues.
  • Write articles for the newsletter and web site.
  • Recruit new member organizations.
  • Serve as a media spokesperson.
  • Assist with fundraising and special events.
  • Other duties as assigned by the Executive Director.

Qualifications: The ideal candidate will have and will possess the following:

  • Three years experience with coalition organizing and/or the legislative process
  • Interest in environmental issues and policies.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including public speaking.
  • Ability to work with diverse groups and people.
  • High level of organization.
  • Ability to coordinate multiple tasks and work independently.
  • Willingness and ability to travel.
  • Computer skills, including proficiency Microsoft Word and Excel.

Terms: Salary range is $28 - 35,000 depending on experience. This is a full-time permanent position located in Springfield, Illinois. Benefits include health insurance, a 401(k) plan, and vacation.

Lobbyist

Description: The Environmental Lobbyist will develop campaigns to make a difference on pressing issues such as: getting chemical companies to reduce the use of toxics in MA, addressing overpackaging, waste and “bury and burn” practices through our Reduce/Reuse/Recycle platform, and protecting the state’s dwindling open spaces from the developer’s lobby. We seek a talented individual who will bring creative ideas and gumption to the environmental challenges that face Massachusetts.

Responsibilities:

  • Advocacy: Bring problems/solutions to the attention of decision-makers -- including state legislators, people in the Executive branch, environmental agency staff, and local officials.
  • Campaign Strategy: Create a plan to win on our environmental campaigns; strategize how to gain political support for our agenda through coalition-building, grassroots organizing, media publicity, endorsements, and message development.
  • Media Outreach: Serve as the public spokesperson for our environmental campaigns -- through media events, press releases, editorial board meetings and other PR tactics.
  • Fundraising: Write grant proposals, impress foundations with an environmental mission to support our work, and meet with large donors, all to bring more resources to efforts we’re waging to protect Massachusetts’ environment
  • Salary and Benefits: Salary for this position is commensurate with the relevant professional experience and/or advanced degrees that a candidate has. A competitive benefits package includes health care coverage, educational loan assistance, a retirement plan, and paid vacation and sick days. Opportunities for advancement, travel, and additional training are available

Qualifications: Passion. Persistence. We’re looking for a goal-driven and results-oriented individual who is committed to the public interest, someone with leadership skills and initiative, and the verbal and written skills necessary to make the case that protecting the environment must be a top priority. Candidates should have 3 to 8 years of relevant professional experience, post-college, including (but not limited to) work in political, policy, legal, journalistic or government settings.

Jump-Start Ford Organizer

Description: Rainforest Action Network (RAN) works to protect the world’s rainforests and the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. RAN operates hard-hitting campaigns designed to provoke systemic change within the global marketplace. RAN’s Jump-Start Ford Campaign will catalyze a transition within the automobile industry, helping to break America’s oil addiction. The campaign mobilizes concerned citizens that believe that reducing our oil dependence is patriotic and principled—and essential if we are to prevent climate destabilization, and preserve biodiversity and our forests for future generations. RAN's Jump-Start Ford Organizer will work as part of a larger campaigns team; working most closely with the Jump-Start Ford Campaign Director.

Responsibilities:

  • Execute grassroots pressure tactics to pressure Ford Motor Company to achieve 50 miles per gallon for its fleet by 2010, and to reduce all emissions, greenhouse gas or other, by 2020.
  • Strengthen RAN campaigns by working with campaign staff to mobilize grassroots activists on key forest and climate change issues;
  • Strengthen, broaden, and diversify the network of climate change, human rights, peace and justice, and forest activists and groups;
  • Build capacity within the movement and support grassroots efforts with organizing advice, resources, materials, and campaign strategy;
  • Co-coordinate RAN gatherings and trainings of climate change and rainforest activists;
  • Direct, facilitate, and participate in other regional and national organizing and campaign training sessions;
  • Maintain relationships with close coalition partners and allies through organizing, outreach and corporate negotiations;
  • Develop a plan with the Jump-Start Ford Campaign Director and other interested parties at RAN to coordinate with organized labor on the Ford campaign;
  • Help prepare materials for the Jump-Start Ford campaign and RAN as a whole, including website, fact sheets, action alerts, etc;
  • Maintain Jump-Start Ford activist lists within RAN’s online activist community, and coordinate with other lists within RAN in order to grow RAN’s online activist presence;
  • Coordinate annually (and as needed) with the Jump-Start Ford campaign team to design the strategic plan and budget for the Jump-Start Ford;
  • Represent RAN at environmental conferences and provide motivation and tools to grassroots constituencies. Act as a public spokesperson for RAN as needed;
  • Co-coordinate RAN’s intern program, supervise interns and volunteers working on campaign activities, including research, execution of outreach, etc, and facilitate intern recruitment and assignment within RAN;
  • Participate in RAN's organizational planning and training sessions. Share office responsibilities to maintain a healthy and safe work place;
  • Report to Jump-Start Ford Campaign Director regularly on accomplishments and plans of action.
  • Participate in quarterly performance reviews with the Jump-Start Ford Campaign Director as well as weekly campaign team meetings.

Qualifications: The Jump-Start Ford Organizer position requires demonstrated written and verbal communication skills, coalition building skills, and networking skills. Prioritizing tasks, volunteer coordination, and the ability to empower and motivate grassroots activists in carrying out campaign tactics are necessary. The position requires good decision-making skills, professional initiative and results-oriented behavior. Previous successful campaign or organizing experience is required; nonviolent direct action experience is an asset.

Climate Change Coordinator

Description: Climate Change Coordinator Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and Environmental Defense seek an individual with strong advocacy and organizing skills for the position of Climate Change Coordinator to spur action by North Carolina leaders by developing active constituencies for climate change policies from a broad base of individuals, groups and communities. The Climate Change Coordinator will be responsible for developing and implementing many aspects of a new climate change campaign. The coordinator will work with both organizations to maximize the opportunities for success in passing a greenhouse gas registry in the NC legislature and raising public awareness and support for stronger state-level global warming policies. The coordinator will be responsible for implementation of the strategic campaign plan. Position guaranteed for one year with possibility of extension.

Responsibilities:

  • Take the lead to develop and implement a climate change advocacy campaign in North Carolina.
  • Work with Environmental Defense and SACE to pursue a greenhouse gas registry in the NC state legislature.
  • Increase grassroots support for climate change policies among affected communities and work with colleagues to develop grasstops support for a greenhouse gas registry.
  • Host meetings and workshops throughout North Carolina to educate members, community and citizens groups about global warming issues and solutions.
  • Develop educational and advocacy materials to support the campaign.
  • Utilize earned media opportunities to raise public awareness and highlight campaign successes and efforts.
  • Organize support among allies and non-traditional groups to develop broad community strength for our climate work.

Qualifications:

  • Minimum of 1 year, preferably 3 years, of experience in clean air, energy, or climate change advocacy work is desired.
  • Bachelor’s degree required – in a relevant field of study is desirable.
  • Familiarity with and understanding of air quality and climate related issues and advocacy helpful.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills.
  • Experience organizing diverse groups of people (from citizens, businesses, state agencies, schools, etc.).
  • Experience working with decision-makers and/or lobbying helpful.
  • Ability to work and thrive in adversarial conditions.
  • Ability to work well under pressure and with rapidly changing and emerging issues and priorities.
  • Excellent strategic skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and in collaborative environments.
  • Computer proficiency.
  • Sense of humor.
  • Willingness to travel throughout the state.

Terms: Salary and Benefits Salary range is low to mid-thirties, commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package optional.

Public Policy Specialist

Responsibilities:

  • Run a grassroots advocacy network, including production of printed and electronic action alerts, maintaining database records, boosting membership, and collaborating efforts with Director of Public Policy to maximize effectiveness.
  • Mobilize land trust leaders in targeted districts to support federal public policy efforts. Coordinate activities of the field directors to identify and mobilize activists in their regions.
  • Maintain the Public Policy information on the LTA Web site, making sure that the information is accurate and up to date.
  • Respond to inquiries from the public and member organizations about federal legislation affecting land conservation and the policy activities of the organization generally.
  • Work with government officials and organizations in DC and around the country to advance policy goals of the organization, secure increased federal funding for land conservation, and raise federal policymakers’ awareness of voluntary conservation techniques.
  • Represent LTA at conferences, workshops, and other outside meetings, including preparing and delivering presentations on specific land conservation topics.

Qualifications:

  • Strong writing and speaking skills, ability to communicate effectively with LTA members and others.
  • Experience in legislative advocacy a must
  • Must be able to work constructively with others from a broad range of political perspectives.
  • Proven ability to handle multiple tasks and to organize and maintain information resources
  • Ability to travel occasionally.
  • Experience with Web design and implementation a plus.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office 2000 a plus.

Outreach Coordinator

Description: The Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund (IECEF) and its affiliate the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC) are seeking an Outreach Coordinator. IECEF and IEC are 28 year-old organizations that promote sound environmental laws and policies, provide a forum for environmentalists and facilitate a statewide activist network. IECEF engages in legislative monitoring and analysis; outreach, organizing and coalition building; and communication and education. IEC performs legislative advocacy and serves as the environmental community's eyes, ears and voice in Springfield.

Responsibilities:

  • Coordinate outreach, organizing and coalition building activities.
  • Staff and support coalitions working on Clean Water and other issues.
  • Lobby the Illinois General Assembly and state agencies on environmental issues.
  • Write articles for the newsletter and web site.
  • Recruit new member organizations.
  • Serve as a media spokesperson.
  • Assist with fundraising and special events.
  • Other duties as assigned by the Executive Director.

Qualifications:

The ideal candidate will have three years experience with coalition organizing and/or the legislative process and will possess the following:

  • Interest in environmental issues and policies.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including public speaking.
  • Ability to work with diverse groups and people.
  • High level of organization.
  • Ability to coordinate multiple tasks and work independently.
  • Willingness and ability to travel.
  • Computer skills, including proficiency Microsoft Word and Excel.

Terms: Salary range is $28 - 35,000 depending on experience. This is a full-time permanent position located in Springfield, Illinois. Benefits include health insurance, a 401(k) plan, and vacation.

by Linn, Molly M last modified Oct 22, 2012 04:29 PM
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