The Garden Club of America’s 2017 National Affairs and Legislative (NAL) Annual Meeting was held February 27 – March 2 in Washington DC. 300 delegates from 200 clubs across the country attended. The meeting had a rigorous agenda and focused on the GCA’s eight Position Papers: Clean Air, Clean Water, Climate Change, National Parks, National Public Lands, Native Plants, Sustainable Agriculture, and Transportation. Our Zone X included 12 delegates from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. It was a well organized gathering and our welcome packets included valuable information including background on many of the key issues and bills that were discussed as well as the League of Conservation Voters 2016 Environmental scoreboard for the second session of the 114th Congress. It was no surprise that the majority of delegates attending were knowledgeable and the speakers and discussions both enlightening and passionate.
The first full day was held in the hotel ballroom with close to 15 accomplished speakers. Wednesday, March 1st was our day on “The Hill” and Thursday’s schedule included visits to appropriate Senatorial and Congressional representative’s offices. Due to travel constraints, I was not able to stay for those visits.
Linda Fraser, NAL Chairman, welcomed the group Tuesday morning and reminded the delegates of GCA’s mission and advocacy policy. She emphasized that we are a non-partisan, issue based organization. Unfortunately, a non-partisan atmosphere was not my experience.
The history of conservation in the Garden Club of America’s more than 100 years is impressive. The NAL meeting accomplished many positive goals. The sessions educated our group on pending legislation, fostered networking within the zone and across the country, inspired the delegates to share their knowledge with hometown club members, and most importantly, reinforced the belief that as members of clubs and as individuals, we have the ability to preserve and protect our environment.
I encourage each Shaker Lakes Garden Club member to go to the GCA website and click on NAL. There you will find a day by day diary of the Conservation meeting with photos and links to many of the speakers’ presentations.
Although much of the meeting dealt with sobering issues, there were quite a few bright spots too. I found the most moving speaker to be an amazing high school senior named Brigitte Harbers. Her story of her life’s path and work to help the endangered Maui's dolphins in New Zealand was inspirational.
We are members of an organization filled with capable women. My hope is that Shaker Lakes members will make an effort to take advantage of the valuable information and resources available to us, choose an area of interest, and become involved. I was honored to be your delegate at the NAL Annual Meeting and look forward to sharing information about important issues at our April meeting.