What I Have Learned From Advocating For The Boundary Waters In D.C.

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What I Have Learned From Advocating For The Boundary Waters In D.C.

The boundary waters in the early morning.

The boundary waters in the early morning.

Ellie Retzlaff

The boundary waters in the early morning.

Ellie Retzlaff

Ellie Retzlaff

The boundary waters in the early morning.

Ellie Retzlaff, Deputy Feature Editor

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The elusive Capitol Hill, and some of the most important people in our country, were about three blocks away from my hotel. To me, someone who has always been interested in politics, it was crazy to be able to walk into these buildings, to eat lunch where senators and representatives had been, but, most of all, to meet the politicians, the lawmakers of our country, and to have them listen to what I was saying.

To give a bit more context, I was in Washington D.C. with a group of forty or so other kids from around the country, representing “Kids For the Boundary Waters,” an organization formed by Joseph Goldstein, who is a fellow teen and Boundary Waters enthusiast. Our purpose? To save the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota from the mining threats that are posed to the environment. With our goals in mind, we spent two days in D.C. going from meeting to meeting, sharing our stories and explaining the importance of such a serene, gorgeous, and pristine area.  

Courtesy of Ellie Retzlaff

Personally, I didn’t think of myself as much of a campaigner, but after flying to Washington on my own and navigating the metro and Uber, simply talking about this issue that I was so passionate about felt easy. Even though the stakes were high, things felt so simple. When you feel strong enough about an issue, advocating feels like the most important thing in the world and “getting involved,” the slogan of the senior showcase here at Minnetonka, becomes enjoyable and feels less like a chore for college applications.

Getting to speak about the Boundary Waters and seeing the effect that we had on the senators, representatives, and their staff was incredible. And just knowing that I put myself out there and did all I could to affect change made me feel especially happy that I got this opportunity.

While taking your efforts to D.C. might seem like an unattainable ambition, all it really takes is the determination and passion to start. The world was not changed by our trip, but you could see the progress we were making in every person that we talked to. From the enthusiastic, whose eyes and smiles heard us and understood us, to those who disagreed, their bewilderment and fluster gave way to a tiny spark, that maybe, just maybe, our strength and passion changed their mind and gave way to the beginning of a revolution.

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