Hitchhikers guide to fighting back

February 11, 2022

What is civil engagement?

Civil engagement is the act of a civilian advocating in the interest of resolving or addressing a public issue. Through voting and other acts, all members of society (yes, high schoolers who can’t vote, that means you too) have a way to get involved in many issues, such as the ones facing North Carolina today. 

There is a myriad of small changes that are easy to make in everyday life to fight the issue.

 “The biggest way that an individual can combat the environmental impact of CAFOs is to eat less meat and not waste the meat that we do buy. Trying something like ‘Meatless Monday’ is a good first step. We can also shop locally at places like the farmers market where farming is much smaller scale and farmers are raising much fewer animals in more environmentally friendly ways,” said Jones.

However, bigger steps can be taken too, actions that are surprisingly doable for the average high schooler.


The first step to the ability to participate in elections is the ability to vote. In North Carolina, minors may pre-register to vote starting at age 16, ensuring they will be set to vote without hassle upon their 18th birthday. 

“While national voting may seem like something where one vote does little, you are still voicing your belief. State and local elections can be won by mere thousands, hundreds, or even tens of votes,” said Robbins. 

Did you know? In NC, 17 year olds can vote in primaries if they will be 18 at the time of general eleactions.

If you can’t vote, be sure to help others register by spreading access to registration sites and information, especially on crowded platforms. However, it is important people are correctly informed on where to register so false forms are not filled out, which is why spreading verified information is important.  Social media activism is activism, too. Learn how to register to vote here.

Keep your friends close, but your politicians closer

When it comes to systemic issues such as this one, groups can often feel powerless against the multi-billion industry causing the problem. However, action is still possible.

“The first step in any policymaking is people are going to tell you to fix this problem and then they’ll work with you to actually create some change,” said Som.

Interest groups are associations with a specific political goal or cause that they advocate for. They use their monetary power and social influence to sway policymaking in their favor.  Civilians with similar goals to these groups can reach out to them and bring attention to issues affecting their point of interest. This allows interest groups to work with politicians to solve such issues. 

Additionally, contacting representatives helps them understand the issues of their constituents. Not only is it their responsibility to acknowledge these interests, but it is also in their best interest to do so to garner favor with the public. 

Follow this email guide to get your voice heard by the appropriate politicians and interest groups.

Get online, be a “Kids These Days!”

It is easy to follow the news when it pops up at your fingertips on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. However, for more local issues such as this one, students often have to take it into their own hands to create that fast-spreading Instagram storm.

“I think it’s a lot of just being loud about it and getting the word out to get that base and that support because you have to prove in some way that there is a problem and a lot of people want a change,” said Som.

Starting Twitter hashtags and sharing posts on the issue are a great way to get the word out so that more people are aware there is even an issue to tackle. Media publicity does a great job amassing support in large numbers so that politicians are forced to deal with a greater hit to their voter base if they chose to look away. 

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