The CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS Video Contest is now open!

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution gives citizens the right to contact their representatives and let them know about the issues they are facing and want the government to solve. This fundamental right has been a part of the American political tradition since before the ratification of the Constitution. One of the challenges confronting citizens today is knowing which government representative to contact when they have a
problem. In order to help citizens become more involved with their state government, the Washington State Council for the Social Studies (WSCSS) is looking for a few good student filmmakers to help.

We need you to help your fellow citizens reach out to their leaders. Our state’s future depends on a strong and vibrant citizenry who are active in local and state government.

Your task: create a short video - about four minutes - that shows citizens how to contact their state legislators and federal representatives.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at the Washington State Legislature online at . You can find the information that you need under the “Find Your District” tab on the left-hand side.

1st Place: $100
2nd Place: $75
Honorable Mention: $25

Contest Rules & Requirements:

  • This contest is open to all middle and high school students in the State of Washington
  • Students may work in pairs or individually in creating their submissions
  • All submitted entries should be no longer than 4 minutes
  • All entries should begin with a fifteen second title screen that contains the following:
    • Student(s) Name
    • School Name
    • Title of Entry
    • Total running time of entry (excluding fifteen second title)
  • All videos must be submitted online using YouTube.  No other video formats (ex. DVDs) will be accepted
  • All students must be the owners of the YouTube account they use to submit the video
  • You may not use any copyrighted material (including images and music) unless you have the written permission of the owner
  • Students must complete their videos with minimal assistance from adults.  Adults can provide technical or editing advice as well as help students film their projects
  • All entries must be submitted via the link below by 11:59 pm on March 24, 2017
  • Student submissions must comply with all Washington State and Federal laws
  • By submitting your video, you give the WSCSS the right to use your video and attest that you have permission to use the likeness of all people appearing in your video

It's easy to contact your representatives by phone, e-mail, or letter, but there's nothing like a person to person meeting to get their attention on Social Studies education!  Meeting them in person now sets you up for a positive lobbying relationship that can lead to establishing yourself as a source of information concerning Social Studies in your legislative district, classroom visits, and eventually votes to support the Social Studies.


When members of the legislature think back to when they were in school,  they remember Social Studies as being about memorizing dates and data that are quickly forgotten. For this and many other reasons, Social Studies has found itself in a fight to stay classified as a core subject equal to Language Arts, Science, and Math.  We need to reteach our Legislative and Congressional leaders as to what the modern Social Studies classroom is all about.  We are how society learns to connect past to present, be critical consumers of information, and how to become active citizens. This is your chance to speak out.

Ways to making sure your voice is heard:

1: Know your legislators.  They are in office to represent you and want to meet and have conversations with their constituents. Your voice does count and needs to be heard.

2: Think about what you would like to teach them about Social Studies.  What are some good things that are happening concerning Social Studies in your school, district, and statewide?  What are things that are making it harder to be successful and help kids be the active, critical, and reflective citizens they need to be?  Are there any relevant bills before the House or Senate that you could mention by bill number?  Write up a "Leave Behind" sheet with your main points, bill numbers, and other important data.

3: Set up meetings with your legislators. 

  • Send a letter to set up a meeting with your representative’s scheduler.
  • Identify yourself as a constituent and also identify yourself by profession (teacher, administrator, professor, or student).
  • Inform the scheduler the date and time you will be in Washington, DC or Olympia (Thursday, February 18, between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m., for example)
  • You might need to email a written request for a meeting in addition to the phone call.  Be sure to ask for the email address.
  • Do not be discouraged if you do not get in on your first attempt. The Congressional Calendars are very full.  Be patient and persistent.

4: When you get in and have an appointment keep these in mind.

  • Bring a camera.  You don’t want to miss an opportunity to document your experience.
  • Your appointment will probably last between 15 and 30 minutes.  Be sure to allow 20-30 minutes between appointments to allow time to travel between your representatives offices (if you're going all the way to Olympia or DC, you should make appointments with all of your senators and representatives on the same day)
  • If you are going with a colleague, keep the number of people per visit small enough (2-3 people) for easy communication of ideas.
  • Be prepared to leave information behind for them to refer too.

5: Make sure you follow up every meeting with a thank you letter.