This article originally appeared on the Students4Nuclear website

I am a nuclear advocate, a graduate student, and the new student director for the American Nuclear Society. I will be representing students on the ANS Board of Directors for the next two years, and I’m here to encourage you to get involved in pro-nuclear organizations and become a better nuclear advocate.

Here’s a little bit about me—I’m a first-year graduate student in Nuclear Engineering & Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I recently received my Bachelors in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering from the University of Illinois.

Beyond the technical work I do for my degree, I also consider myself a nuclear advocate. I want to separate those two things because anyone can be a nuclear advocate, not just nuclear engineers. If care about nuclear power and understand that it’s a vital part of our electricity generation, you can be a nuclear advocate as well!

Why Advocate?

Advocacy is generally defined as “public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.” Nuclear advocacy is talking to people about why you think nuclear energy is important and exciting! Nuclear is a topic many people find fascinating, either because of its potential benefits or the perceived dangers. Sharing your own passion for nuclear, especially with friends and family, can lend some of your knowledge and passion to people who might have an unexamined negative bias for nuclear. Furthermore, it can help you develop as a communicator and find connections with other nuclear advocates while growing your visibility in the nuclear world. Advocacy helps you confront the challenges nuclear faces and determine your own thoughts about how best to address them. In short, nuclear advocacy provides a means of personal growth as a communicator and critical thinker as well as plays an essential role in shifting the public perspective on nuclear energy.

How to be an Advocate

Now, once you consider yourself a nuclear advocate, what are your next steps? It can be difficult to advocate alone–luckily, you don’t have to! There are several great organizations that can help you build a network of connections and volunteer at events.

Generation Atomic

The first is the grassroots organization Generation Atomic. GenA was founded by a nuclear advocate with no engineering background but a love for the environment, nuclear power, and a knack for organizing marches and events. If you’re interested in marching for nuclear, speaking with elected officials, or door-to-door canvassing, this is an amazing organization to join.

GenA even has an app that helps you find events near you, stay up to date with news in the nuclear industry, and connect with others.

American Nuclear Society

Another great option is getting involved with the American Nuclear Society (ANS), both at the student chapter level and at the national level. Again, you don’t have to be a nuclear engineer to get involved with ANS!

Students–does your university have an ANS chapter? Check HERE. If it does, you should check it out! ANS Student sections often hold outreach and advocacy events in their local communities.

If your school doesn’t have a chapter, why not consider starting one? It’s a good way to bring together pro-nuclear students who want to protect the environment and advocate for clean power generation. Check out the resources to start an ANS chapter HERE.

Not a student any more? You can join your Local Section too, which often does similar outreach and advocacy events throughout the year.

Beyond ANS student and local sections, ANS national is also a vibrant community of 11,000 students and professional, and joining is a great way to expand your network. Note- joining your student section is not the same as joining ANS national, so I encourage you all to become a national member of the Society as well as your student or local section.

Are you unsure how to get involved with Generation Atomic, ANS national, or other pro-nuclear organizations? Do you want to learn more about what other students are doing so you can host similar events in your area? Send me your comments!

Becoming an ANS national member allows you to have division and committee memberships, offers incredible networking opportunities, and gets you cheaper rates to attend national conferences. While joining your student sections provides the chance to build leadership skills and impact your community on a local level, joining ANS national allows the opportunity to let your voice be heard in the entire nuclear community.

Finally, I encourage you to get active in your local community. Join an environmental group or service club near you! You can still be a nuclear advocate through those channels! The best part about being a nuclear advocate is that you can do it in your everyday life. It’s a topic that people are often very interested in, so just strike up conversations about it with your neighbors, friends, acquaintances. Lots of people are interested in nuclear power, but they just don’t know much about it. By explaining the benefits and addressing their concerns, you can be a powerful advocate by creating new nuclear advocates!

Students for Nuclear

What’s your story of becoming a nuclear advocate? Consider writing for Students for Nuclear! We are a collection of students who all feel strongly about the benefits of nuclear power, and we’d love to have you! Email if you’re interested!