Organizing for Science in Colorado

by Erik Clarke

I’ve always been drawn to public service. Throughout my formative years, I was involved in food drives, local civics issues, and the neighborhood United Way. In college, I was an appointed member of half a dozen boards and commissions, a leader in senior rights initiatives, active in environmental activist groups, and an elected member of the student government. At a young age, I was inspired by my grandfather’s military service during World War II and his sense of duty to country and community as an elected leader of his VFW post.

Erik ClarkeWhen I moved to Denver, I continued my efforts in public service as an advocate of net neutrality, public finance professional, a supporter of major bonding projects to invest nearly a billion dollars into infrastructure projects in Denver, and I joined the executive board of the Denver March for Science.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done at the Denver March for Science to convene groups of like-minded people together to advocate for STEM education, promote proven vaccine science, and engage with public officials and members of the community on a variety of science topics. Over the past two years, we have had over 22,000 residents of Greater Denver attend our march and outdoor science fair. We’re also proud to have been recognized for these efforts by the Governor of Colorado, the Colorado State Legislature, the Mayor of Denver, and the Denver City Council with proclamations honoring science and science advocacy. We’re also proud to have been recognized by the Mayor’s Office as the first outdoor green-certified event in Denver’s history.

Part of the reasons we’ve been so successful at promoting engagement on science topics in Colorado is that our state is a leader in scientific fields. Colorado is one of the top 5 states for science employment in the United States; we have over 200,000 scientists living in Colorado and our state is a world leader in geology, aerospace, clean energy, bioscience, and emerging consumer technologies.

We’ve also been successful at communicating the importance of science in forming public policy to our elected officials. We reached out to our elected representatives to sign pledges recognizing that science is a pillar of human freedom and prosperity, good science informs good public policy, and equitable access to science results in greater personal autonomy, a vibrant economy, and a more connected world. This pledge has been signed by Congressman Ed Perlmutter who has co-sponsored legislation to defend net neutrality, Speaker of the Colorado House of Representative KC Becker, University of Colorado Regent Lesley Smith, and several other elected officials throughout Colorado.

Emerging science-focused legislation in Colorado includes fully-funded full-day Kindergarten, solar garden modernization (HB 19-1003), and plans to reduce vehicular emissions (HB 19-1261). Additionally, sponsored federal legislation from Colorado include the CORE Act by Senator Michael Bennett and Congressman Joe Neguse to protect 400,000 acres of new public lands and the SAFE Banking Act from Congressman Ed Perlmutter to allow the cannabis industry to utilize traditional banking options.

Denver, Colorado is a world leader in science innovation and our group is working hard to ensure that our local, state, and federal government becomes a leader in the use of science to inform good public policy. The Month of May has been designated as the Science Month of Action by the Mayor of Denver and the Governor of Colorado. By promoting events and activities throughout the Denver community in May, we hope to bring more people to the table to learn about and engage in science and inspire a love for science in the hearts and minds of young people Coloradans.