GUEST VIEW: Speak up through advocacy

By Rhea Landholm,, Center for Rural Affairs

State and national policy directly impact how we live. With state legislative sessions in full swing, how can you help guide your representatives’ policy decisions? Speak up through advocacy.

Start with identifying your elected officials. On both the state and federal levels, you are represented by members of the House and Senate. Find your elected officials using your zip code at

Before contacting your representatives, craft the message you would like to share. Identify one issue and develop talking points. These will be your reference points if conversation moves away from your issue.

Why is this issue important to you? Tell your story. Make sure your representative hears how this issue has affected you and those close to you. Provide data, if relevant.

You can contact your representative in several ways. Make a phone call, attend a community meeting, send an email, or share your perspective with the media through a letter to the editor.

Don’t forget to display confidence, enthusiasm, credibility, and commitment. One way to display credibility is telling your representative where you live, so they know you are a constituent in their district.

How will these actions create change? The people you are reaching out to are lawmakers who need your vote to become elected or stay in office. As your representatives, their job is to shape policy on behalf of your interests.

Your advocacy ensures your voice is heard on issues that matter most to you. Remember to always show respect to legislators and their staff members, regardless of where they stand on the issue.

Contact to tell us about your policy priorities or advocacy actions you are taking.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.