OPINION: A trip to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the outdoors is no monkey business

As outdoor industry leaders gather in Washington, D.C. this week to speak with members of Congress, sponsors of the Outdoor Industry Association's Capitol Summit tell SNEWS why policy matters to them. Today, we hear from Outdoor Retailer's Kenji Haroutunian.
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As outdoor industry leaders gather in Washington, D.C. this week to speak with members of Congress, sponsors of the Outdoor Industry Association's Capitol Summit tell SNEWS why policy matters to them. Today, we hear from Outdoor Retailer's Kenji Haroutunian:

Of all the events I am invited to attend and participate in each year, the OIA Capitol Summit is a real highlight. Maybe it's because I'm such a 'Johnny Appleseed' about getting active outdoors, or maybe because I held three of four officerships in my elementary school student government and pine for the old days — I just really enjoy the process of democracy in its true form. Though there are monkey suits involved, there really is very little monkey business. We present a serious industry with serious concerns and serious firepower.

There is something so elemental about getting into a legislator's office in D.C., sitting down with them and explaining how important the Land and Water Conservation funding is to the industry we serve, or how supporting a particular House bill can support thousands of sustainable jobs, or how basic U.S. Forest Service or National Park Service funding support can help consumers learn about (and treasure) our

natural national heritage. Often the lobbying call encourages the purchase of more active outdoors goods and services, as it turns out.

So when I feel like whining about the futility of our government, I stop and remind myself that 'hey, you can do something about this, y'know — quit whining!'.

Being a person in the events business, I can quickly imagine how much work goes into coordinating 6 or 10 squadrons of people in a one-day whirlwind tour making meaningful asks of our congressmen/women and showing ourselves as a serious, effective and potent business force in the world. My hat is off to OIA for doing such an amazing job each year with the Capitol Summit. I'm once again enjoying my two days of real activism for our industry and protection of the natural places we love to wear out our gear exploring.

Kenji Haroutunian

Vice President & Group Show Director

Nielsen Expositions

Outdoor Retailer

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