Every two years, WTA connects members of our hiking community with their elected officials during Hiker Rally Day. Ninety percent of Washington residents use trails, and legislators need to know! You can tell them how important trails are to you and everyone in Washington. You don’t need to be an expert in public lands policy – anyone can be an advocate.
During the 2022 state legislative session, WTA led an effort that resulted in an unprecedented win for Washington’s public lands. We could not have done it without the community of over 900 outdoor enthusiasts who joined us in contacting our state lawmakers.
Hiker Rally Day is coming up on March 14, 2023, and we wanted to share some commonly asked questions about participating.
Will this year's hiker rally day be in person or online?
This year will be virtual. Join us online!
Why should I register in advance?
We can only schedule meetings with your legislator when we know constituents from your district will be present. Legislators' schedulers require advance notice, so we greatly appreciate you committing to attend in advance.
Can a day of Trainings meetings be fun?
Amazingly, it is! This is a great chance to meet other hikers from across the state and maybe get some trail recommendations. Plus, you get to be an active part of the democratic process and maybe learn something new.
“You will enjoy meeting so many interesting people, all with an appreciation for the outdoors,” said Mark Uhurt, a past Hiker Rally Day participant.
I'm seeing The event is March 10 and 11. Do I have to dedicate two full days to this?
You definitely do not! In fact, we ultimately decided to split our longer, single-day event into two shorter days so that people could have more flexibility with their busy schedules.
what is the time commitment?
Before March 14, there will be a one-hour required virtual training session. During that time, we'll walk you through our issues and share how legislator meetings will go.
On March 14, all participants will meet online from 9:30—11:00 a.m. to hear from our keynote speaker and get ready for the day. Then, you’ll convene with other folks from your district to attend virtual meetings with lawmakers. Each person will have three, 15-minute long legislator meetings — one with your state senator and one with each of your two state representatives. These meetings are ultimately dependent on the lawmakers' availability but will generally be between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. You will receive meeting times the week prior to Hiker Rally Day.
Does it really matter if I meet with my representative? I can't make a difference.
“Advocates in Washington state for our public lands are absolutely essential,” says Hilary Franz, Washington Commissioner of Public Lands. Think of all the different issues your representatives are asked to vote on. They rely on experts from various fields and the opinions of their constituents (that's you). Andrew Barkis, state representative for the 2nd Legislative District said, “Don’t be afraid. Tell your story. Legislators like myself are people … We all have our different areas of policy expertise, and sometimes we don’t know what’s going on in those other areas, and you’re the expert.”
what if i meet with my representative's staff? is that still making a difference?
It is common to meet with staff instead of a legislator. Legislative assistants are well-versed in meeting with constituents, and they are committed to reporting information from any meetings back to your representative. Some of them are even passionate hikers!
Do I have to meet with my representative by myself?
Nope, you’ll have company. When we schedule meetings for Hiker Rally Day, it is generally one meeting per office. That means your meeting will be you and anyone else who signed up for rally day from your district. If you want to guarantee you have a buddy you know, ask your neighbor to sign up and join you. If you are the only one from your district, a WTA staffer will be happy to join you.
“It's not as scary as you might think. Legislators love to talk to constituents and you would be surprised how many are eager to share their personal hiking stories,” said Susan Saul, a regular Hiker Rally Day participant.
I didn't vote for my representative. will they still listen to me?
Yes. They work for everyone who lives in their district — but maybe don't lead with the fact that you didn't vote for them at your meeting, if that's the case.
Do I have to be an issue expert? I don't know anything about how the budget works.
Sharing your personal trail experiences and passion for spending time on trails and public lands with your representatives is all you need to do. Our training will provide you with all of the other high-level items you might want to bring up. One past Hiker Rally Day participant, Richard Mellon, said this: “Legislators are very responsive to hearing about the benefits we as individuals gain from public lands and trails. It's surprisingly easy to present an ‘ask’ for something you truly believe in, especially when it benefits our communities and society at large.”
Who can attend rally day?
The short answer is, anyone! We get a mix of hikers from all walks of life at our Hiker Rally Day. While some attendees are retired, others have chosen to take the day off work or school because they feel so strongly about keeping trails open. If you can't take the day off work, we will have other ways to make your voice heard.
What should I wear?
Ah, the benefits of a virtual event! Professional work attire is appropriate as you want to make a good impression during your meetings. As we've learned, you can look professional on the top and be comfortable on the bottom (ahem, sweatpants).
should I bring Anything to my meetings?
It's always a good idea to pen and notebook if you'd like to take notes, or to have some talking points written out. Aside from that, all you really need to bring is a positive attitude and a willingness to share your story.
how do I sign up?
I've never used zoom before. What do i need to know?
Have no fear. We have created an instruction guide with some tips that we will share with you.