By Vincent Gallo, CSF Brad Rowse Policy Fellow
Prior to the eight months that I spent with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) I had very limited exposure to the hunting and angling community. Although I regularly visited shooting ranges and spent time outdoors throughout my childhood, I never really had the opportunity to go out hunting. I did fish a couple times with some friends growing up but I had no idea about all the positive impacts that the sportsmen’s traditions had on the environment and habitats of all the wildlife that we have grown to love. With over four and a half years in the military and my time at CSF, my love for shooting ranges has intensified and the Brad Rowse Policy Fellowship gave me the chance to combine two of my passions, shooting and policy, in one location.
CSF has taught me an incredible amount about conservation and the inner workings of Congress in my eight months period with them I came in with the basic knowledge of policy and the structure of both houses but it wasn’t until my internship that I really understood what it took to influence policy making and decisions. The amount of bipartisan effort and support it takes to get bills introduced and passed is extremely impressive and has opened my eyes to the daily tasks that organizations, like CSF, must go through to make a difference in the sportsmen’s community. I was unaware of the impact that hunters and anglers have on conservation efforts through their purchasing of licenses, tags, and equipment. Better known as the American System of Conservation, it creates the revenue that is directed toward improving habitats and the populations of fish and wildlife. I constantly find myself explaining all the positive benefits to my friends and family, which aren’t directly involved or knowledgeable about the sportsmen’s community, and they usually are pleasantly surprised by how it contributes to the economy and environment.
My time with CSF was extremely enjoyable and the highlight of my professional career thus far. The comradery between staff made it exciting to come into the office every day. They focused on helping you learn whenever you had questions about policy, events, or the legislative process. When I saw they were here to help me understand what CSF is all about, it made me feel at home and it pushed me to give 100 percent back to the organization that has taught me so much. I thoroughly enjoyed attending the various events hosted by CSF, whether it was a breakfast briefing or the Congressional Clays Competition, they are all unique experiences and provided a great networking atmosphere to meet many Congressmen and women and their staff from across the United States.
The connections I made during my eight months at CSF are unforgettable and I will cherish them for the rest of my days. I have worked for, and with, some incredible people that believe in the sportsmen’s community so much that they dedicate their life’s work toward advancing the rights for all. A lot of people, outside of the immediate community, have such a negative view about hunters and anglers but I have had nothing but exceptional experiences with all those I have met. CSF gave me an opportunity to meet Senator Joe Manchin from the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia, in which I served my time in the military and completed my college degree, and it was truly an honor. I would like to thank everybody at CSF for taking me in and allowing me to be part of the team.