For the first time since 2019, conservationists and advocates from across the state came together for the 2022 South Carolina Conservation Coalition (SCCC) Lobby Day on Tuesday, April 26th. There, members of the Coalition advocated for conservation funding, investments in greenspace, and increased land conservation measures. Despite some light storms throughout the day, advocates weathered through and built a strong narrative for conservation in South Carolina.
These actions built upon the work over the last session to pass and introduce legislation like the County Green Space Sales Tax Act and ensure that record levels of funding are appropriated to agencies like the SC Office of Resilience, SC Department of Natural Resources, and the SC Conservation Bank.
The SCCC is a network of 40 organizations across the state and hundreds of South Carolinians—including Audubon South Carolina and its members—who work with local and state lawmakers to ensure a prosperous future for the environment. It was a full day for the conservation advocates: After a morning of preparation and an afternoon at the statehouse, members capped the day with an evening oyster roast with their legislators.
Audubon advocates were in full attendance at lobby day, donning pins with our signature egret logo to show the visual power of our members. Bill Kee, member of the Audubon South Carolina’s Conservation Council had this to say about his experience, “I found the process went very smoothly and there was guidance from knowledgeable people at every step along the way. When it came to going to the Senate and House chambers, having someone at the rope to help call out your Representative made the process very easy. Working as teams meant you never had to be concerned about what you were going to say or for how long. You could always be thinking of other things while the person with you spoke to them. I would like to encourage everyone to participate in this lobby day next year. It is easy, there is no anxiety and there are people to guide you every step along the way.”
In addition to Audubon advocates, ASC staff was in attendance and advocating to our legislators. Engagement Manager Jen Tyrrell spoke to elected officials about Audubon’s important work protecting our environment. "Lobby day was such a great exercise to feel connected to our policy-makers. I spoke with Representative Joe Bustos about the importance of protecting the maritime forests on Sullivan's Island and how places like this are critical for migratory birds and for climate resilience on our coastline. Representative Wetmore and I spoke briefly about the future of Folly Beach and potentially making it more bird friendly. I plan to follow up with them, and lobby day was a great way to start important conversations with elected officials”
Advocates prepared for lobby day through a virtual training hosted by ASC and National Audubon staff, Find Your Flock: Advocacy & Lobbying 101. Audubon advocate Bill Kee said, “The training prior to lobby day helped to organize my thoughts about what to say and to be realistic about the amount of time that I had with each Senator or Representative.” Trainings like these throughout the year and across the state prepares our advocates to be an effective voice for birds. With reports that our feathered friends are more threatened than ever, the time is now to stand up and advocate to protect our planet. Want to learn more and get involved with advocacy at Audubon? Sign up today.