I attended my first Campus Camp Wellstone training as a sophomore in college at UNL.
At this point as an undergrad, I had become involved in various social justice-oriented clubs on campus. I knew just enough to identify the issues I was passionate about but not enough to know what I could do about any of them. I often felt frustrated and overwhelmed by all the things in the world that I wanted to change, but I didn’t know where to start. I had heard of “grassroots organizing,” but I didn’t really know what it was or how to do it.
By attending Campus Camp Wellstone I learned how to transfer my passion for social justice issues into tangible action through grassroots organizing. Wellstone taught me to go beyond identifying the things I wanted to change in the world and showed me how to create a strategic plan, build strong relationships, and work with others to make a real impact.
The Nebraska Organizing Conference will be the next opportunity to attend a workshop hosted by Campus Camp Wellstone on October 11-12 on UNL’s East Campus. It is a free training but you must register by Thursday.
The Wellstone training is very practical and applicable to any social justice or community work one might go on to do. Campus Camp Wellstone taught me skills that I have used in every organizing job I’ve had since my first training. Since attending, I have worked as a field organizer for the Human Rights Campaign, organized students on campus through the Progressive Student Coalition, served as an AmeriCorps member, recruited and managed volunteers for Bold Nebraska, and am now starting as Field Director here at Appleseed. In all of these positions, I have found myself referencing Wellstone’s volunteer recruitment tips, their coalition building workshops, and their strategic planning model — just to name a few.
Wellstone also brings people together who are interested in and passionate about the same things. I spent two days learning from and networking with similar-minded people from campus, the broader Lincoln community, and our trainers from around the country. As a new organizer, I was able to learn from people who were already involved in organizing work on various issues and levels. I also got to connect with other young organizers and build relationships that remain to this day.
After a weekend working with the trainers and getting to know the people around me, I started to realize that the issues I was passionate about could shape the lifestyle and career I chose to have. This was an exciting and new possibility for me at the time, and it shaped the experiences I sought after from that point on, leading the way to my current position at Appleseed.
Every time I attend a Wellstone training, I learn something new and forge valuable relationships with passionate people in my community. Whether you are a seasoned activist or a new organizer, Campus Camp Wellstone is an incredible opportunity to learn how to transform your passion into action and connect with other like-minded individuals.
Rachel Gehringer-Wiar is the Field Director at Nebraska Appleseed.