Earlier this month, social work students and faculty attended Legislative Lobby Days,  a longstanding tradition that has been in place since 1999. Organized by the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter, the annual event allows students to learn about the legislative process as it relates to social welfare policy.

“This two-day event is aimed at educating social work students about important California legislation affecting human services and the social work profession,” said Dr. Salvador Montana, associate professor in the Department of Social Work Education.  “Students learn about how legislation is created, ways to influence legislation, leadership skills, budgetary processes, collaboration skills and effective lobbying techniques.  These are important skills and knowledge for social work policy practice.”

The event is held annually in March, which is observed as National Social Work Month. The event began on March 12th at the state capitol building in Sacramento with an all-day conference where students had the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and proposed legislative bills. The next day, students were divided into groups comprised of social work students from all over California, including UCLA, San Jose State University, and USC.

Students were able to take the skills they learned and apply them during legislative appointments with legislative members and staff. Second-year Master of Social Work student, Andrew Marquez, said the experience was incredible.

“After attending the conference and lobbying a bill to an actual senator, I felt empowered,” said Marquez. “I felt like I truly had a voice that could be heard. It makes me look forward to getting involved in this aspect of social work in the future.”

Over 1,400 participants attended Lobby Days, including 33 undergraduate and graduate students from Fresno State. Montana said this was Fresno State’s largest group from the past 18 years of attendance.

“Attending Lobby Days gave me a taste of what working in the legislative field is like,” said Veronica Wilson, a first-year Master of Social Work student. “It gave me an idea of how powerful the principles of social work can be used to achieve social justice and equality. I’m looking forward to making more memories at next year’s event!”

To learn more about Legislative Lobby Days, visit the NASW website.