My time in D.C. has been characterized by storytelling. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to the stories of so many wonderful people, the Fellows, staff at Burness, my co-workers at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), history figures that are showcased at Smithsonian museums and the list goes on. Yet, there is one story whose future particularly intrigues me: the story of America.

Stories of America’s history are abundant in this city. In just one month, I’ve toured the Capitol, visited monuments and listened to Uber drivers tell me personal accounts of historical moments. However, there is one story that I don’t think gets told enough. It’s about our relationship with nature and the environment and how it will affect our future.

America is so focused on protecting our land from outside threats, but one of the biggest threats is climate change itself. Yet, there aren’t proper policies in place to protect our land and wildlife. It’s distressing. Fortunately, my time at NWF has shown me that there are a lot of people that care about the environment and are doing something about it.

While working at NWF, I’ve learned about the importance of solution-based communication strategies, like the ones that Frank Karel championed. Raising awareness is not enough. People need to have the tools to push for systemic reform. This is why NWF’s work is so crucial.

During my internship, I’ve done several communications projects for different departments of the organization. The majority of my work has centered on Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and helping prepare for the introduction of the bill. It would provide $1.3 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies and $97 million to Tribal Nations for conservation efforts. The more I learned about the impact the act could have on wildlife and humans, the more I wanted it to pass. I even used the resource that NWF has on its website to urge your congressperson to support the act. I was surprised to get a response from my representative. It read: “The American system of government depends on a dialogue between private citizens and their elected representatives, and I appreciate being able to learn your perspective.”

Lawmakers need to hear more from citizens, specifically from minorities because they’re the first to suffer from the effects of climate change. Their areas are the most polluted, the first to get gentrified and their health most affected.

My worry is that if more noise isn’t made, America’s story will be clouded by stories of polluted cities, sickened citizens and imbalanced ecosystems. America’s story is still capable of being great. But systems need to change and the stories of those most affected need to shape the conversation. You can do your part by contacting your local representative about an issue you care about.