By Kathryn Rickard, Student Board Member, California State PTA
When I look back and think about why I applied to become a student member of the California State PTA Board of Managers, I am reminded of the first state PTA Legislation Conference I attended.
Being at the Legislation Conference led me to apply for the Board of Managers because it was the first time I felt important, like my voice really mattered. At the Legislation Conference, you feel connected to other PTA leaders throughout the state. Having a network of connections is a big part of what PTA is all about, and after attending a Legislation Conference as a student, I realized that all PTA leaders want students to succeed. I also realized that despite being deeply involved in my own unit’s PTA, there was a lot more to learn about what PTA is and what PTA stands for.
In my opinion, the most special aspect of the Legislation Conference is that students are welcome to attend. As a student, it’s not only important to understand what your role in PTA is but to also learn about how you can make a change. At the first Legislation Conference I attended, I got to meet Alex Padilla, California’s first Mexican-American United States Senator. Having the opportunity to meet someone of my heritage, that I can relate to in politics was enlightening and just one of the reasons why the Legislation Conference is so important to me. I think that it can have the same deep meaning to students across the state because when you attend, you can speak your mind, make your passions known, discuss your ideas with legislators, and truly make a difference.
Legislators want to hear from students. They care about what we have to say. Students are some of the most important people at the Legislation Conference because students are impactful. Students are our country’s future and through opportunities like the California State PTA Legislation Conference, students can step into their role as advocates for the health, safety, and well-being of all children. Most importantly, we can step into our role as advocates for our future.
Learn more about the California State PTA Annual Legislation Conference, here.
By Jade Chao, Immediate Past President, Palo Alto Council of PTAs
I first heard about a conference focusing on advocacy and legislation through my local PTA. As a relatively new volunteer in my children’s middle school and not knowing exactly what I might experience, I said, “Yes! I’ll go.” I trusted PTA parents like Nancy Krop who urged me to attend the California State PTA Legislation Conference.
At my first conference I met many new people and listened to some of the most experienced and knowledgeable speakers about subjects that directly impact our children. What really impressed me was the way we could meet our state legislators in Sacramento and talk with them 1-on-1. I quickly made new friends, forged alliances, and learned advocacy skills that would later prove to be valuable.
When I returned to my local PTA, I became aware of an urgent issue involving vaping and flavored tobacco. We took up the issue and mapped out an advocacy plan using skills I had learned from the conference. This included plans to go to Sacramento and talk to various legislators. Erwin Morton taught me how to walk the halls of the Capitol building and speak to anyone willing to listen, with or without an appointment. It was truly democracy in action.
In 2020, the Palo Alto PTA Council brought forth a resolution titled Teen Health & eCigarettes. I used the knowledge and tools I gleaned from the Leg Conference, quickly put together a team and the team sprung into action. My fellow conference attendees were thrilled to join me to meet with legislators and they strongly supported us by joining us in the legislators’ offices. It was actually fun to be so actively engaged in the democratic process — this is something that other countries can only dream of doing. Here we were actually making democracy happen.
The Leg Conference is a super well-organized, well-designed conference to onboard new volunteers. You will get the most out of a very short 2-day conference. Friendship alone is well worth the effort. Meeting and networking with like minded volunteers and being able to speak on our children’s behalf was a bonus. If you have attended this conference, you know what I am talking about. If you have never attended this conference — well, you are missing out! Go! Get yourself approved from your local PTA to attend. You won’t regret it!
Have you considered attending Leg Con 2021, but are still on the fence? Well, here are five reasons that will convince you that attending is DEFINITELY worthwhile:
- This is our first-ever virtual Legislation Conference — don’t you want to be able to say that you were at the very first?
- You don’t have to be a policy expert or an advocacy rock star to get great benefit from the conference. The Legislation Conference is designed to meet the needs of everyone — from an advocacy novice to a policy wonk. Everyone will find something of value at the conference.
- There is so much to learn! Participants in the conference learn about various ways to advocate at the local and state level, hear about important issues that affect students around the state, and hear from policymakers in Sacramento.
- Meet and network with leaders from across the state. One of the best things about the Legislation Conference is meeting other leaders who care about children and families as much as you do!
- Students can attend too! Is your high schooler passionate about a cause, do they want to learn more about how our government works or how they can help make change? Students are always welcomed at the Legislation Conference.
Registration is now open! Click here for more information: https://capta.org/programs-events/legislation-conference/
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