On the 4th and 5th of January, students stormed House and Senate offices in Washington D.C. getting their opinions out to congressional staffers on space policy. It was my first year lobbying for Students on Capitol Hill and I can say, it was the best experience I have ever had. On my ride over to Capitol Hill, I got a text from my very experienced partner who has lobbied before saying he was sick and that I would be on my own for the ten meetings I had with House and Senate staffers for the day. Needless to say, I may have peed my pants just a bit after reading that text. Joshua Jenkins, the founder and leader of Students of Capitol Hill turned to me and said, “You will do fine, you know what you are doing.” When in reality, I had no idea what I was doing. I got to my first meeting, sat down, looked over the list of topics we were to discuss with the staffers and opened my mouth. By some amazement, everything came out smooth and comprehendible. From that meeting on, the day flew by. I met some of the nicest and most understanding staffers and even got a picture with a couple of senators. I plan to participate in Students of Capitol Hill again and I recommend the experience to anyone, even if you have no desire to work with politicians in the future. It was a wonderful challenge.
The Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) leadership retreat followed closely after Students on Capitol Hill. This retreat is designed to pull the SEDS-USA leadership and the SEDS-regional chapter leadership together and hold a two to three day forum on what SEDS is really all about. The weekend was filled with bad jokes, good food, meaningful discussions on the importance of SEDS-USA, brain storming new ideas for general meetings that individual chapters can take back home, when the next rocketry competition will be posted, how we keep track of every chapter nationwide, pros and cons of SpaceVision 2016 and ideas for SpaceVision 2017. Every leadership retreat includes a day dedicated to “the industry.” At this retreat we toured aerospace facilities like the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the Federal Aviation Administration. Each visit was extremely inspiring and gave us all an incredibly in-depth look into the aerospace industry.