On Dec. 9 and 10, 17 American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) members descended on Washington, D.C., for an advocacy training workshop and visits to their congressional members.
The workshop was hosted by APA's Education Government Relations Office with help from the Public Interest and Science Government Relations Offices. The participants represented the Advocacy Coordinating Team within APAGS, including regional advocacy coordinators and state advocacy coordinators. The students had a chance to better connect with their fellow advocacy coordinators and understand ways to get involved in the legislative process.
The topics for the week included the Campus Suicide Prevention Program portion of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reauthorization and the protection of peer-reviewed research grants.
More specifically, for the Campus Suicide Prevention Program, the participants advocated for the recommendation to expand the "uses of funds" section for the provision of mental and behavioral health services to students and to increase and extend the authorization of appropriations for FY 2009.
For the protection of peer-reviewed research, participants thanked their members if they voted no on previous amendments to rescind funding from peer-reviewed research grants and urged that members of Congress vote no on future amendments.
For many, the advocacy training was a refresher on the importance of advocacy at all levels and a chance to perfect their direct communications with members of Congress. For a few, the training was an introduction to federal advocacy and these no-longer-"novice" participants have been propelled on a trajectory toward what will be strong careers in leading advocacy efforts for psychology. Whatever the level of advocacy experience, the APAGS participants all had positive comments following the training and Capitol Hill visits, and the APA Government Relations Office looks forward to working with these future leaders of APA in years to come.