More than 30 scientists and graduate students traveled to Washington, DC, to meet with their members of Congress about the importance of a predictable, sustained investment in biological, agricultural and environmental science. The scientists were in Washington, DC, on 21-22 April 2009 as part of the annual BESC/CoFARM (Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition/Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions) Congressional Visits Day events.

Among this year’s participants were scientists affiliated with AIBS member organizations, such as the Organization of Biological Field Stations, Association of Ecosystem Research Centers, American Arachnological Society, and many others. Winners of the 2009 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award also participated in the event, as did several other graduate students.

The two-day event began with a briefing by senior staff from the White House, the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Congress. The briefing provided participants with an insider’s view of the federal budget for research and development, and tips for effectively communicating with members of Congress. On the 22nd, participants fanned out across Capitol Hill for meetings with Representatives and Senators. This year, the group thanked members of Congress for their efforts to include $3 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e. the economic stimulus package) for the National Science Foundation, and to remind members of Congress that a sustained and predictable investment in scientific research is required if the United States is to maintain its global leadership in science.

On the morning of 21 April, representatives of BESC and CoFARM visited with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate Majority Whip, to present him with an award from BESC and CoFARM. Representing BESC were co-chairs Robert Gropp and Nadine Lymn, director of public policy for AIBS and director of public affairs for the Ecological Society of America, respectively. Also representing BESC were Dr. Knute Naddelhoffer of the University of Michigan and Dr. Scott Collins of the University of New Mexico. The two coalitions recognized Senator Durbin for his leadership on behalf of agricultural and environmental research. In discussions with the BESC and CoFARM representatives, Senator Durbin referenced the importance of agricultural research and extension to helping to stabilize troubled regions, such as Afghanistan and Haiti.

In addition to honoring Senator Durbin, BESC and CoFARM will recognize Representative Maurice Hinchey (R-NY). Hinchey has long supported investments in biological, environmental and agricultural research from his position on the Appropriations Committee.


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