As a young conservative activist, I credit Young America’s Foundation with inspiring me to get involved in the Conservative Movement. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, in a public school system, I had little exposure to conservatism until I learned about the Foundation. As a high school sophomore, I was given two books by my father, the foundation’s The Conservative Guide to Campus Activism and Campus Conservative Battleplan, which proved to be the keys to my becoming an activist. These books opened me up to a world of opportunities to make a difference at my school, with advice for starting a conservative club and covering things like recruitment, public relations, and activism initiatives.
With the foundation’s help, I organized a conservative group on campus, and went on to execute the 9/11: Never Forget Project, and Freedom Week, where we created a mock Berlin Wall outside of my high school to commemorate the fall of the wall. Running the club wasn’t always easy, though; when our administration denied us the ability to host Foundation speakers, failed to assign us a faculty advisor, and told us we couldn’t gather as a club on school grounds, Young America’s Foundation was there to back me up and help me fight for my rights as a conservative student. The foundation relentlessly contacted my administrators, and even drafted a national press release, before my principal backed down and allowed my conservative club to exist. That following spring, the foundation sent me to their Reagan Ranch High School Conference, where I got to see Rancho del Cielo for the first time and network with other conservative students who were working with clubs just like mine.
When I got to Canisius, I was already armed with activism ideas I wanted to work on with other conservatives on campus. During my sophomore year, I became the Public Relations Director for the conservative group at Canisius, and worked to bring Foundation speakers like Jason Mattera to talk about his book Obama Zombies, Ann McElhinney on the dangers of radical environmentalism, and Humberto Fontova to dispel the left’s lies about Che Guevara. Being an activist became my most rewarding college experience, and what I looked forward to each day above classes or any other activities.
I began attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, where I heard from my favorite conservative leaders, and in 2010 was chosen to speak on the CPAC Two-Minute Student Activist Panel before thousands of people! The Foundation’s summer National Conservative Student Conference also allowed me to hear from and meet with hundreds of other conservatives who had their own advice and experiences for me to learn from. My continued activism made me a top Club 100 activist, allowing me to qualify for the annual Reagan Ranch retreat, where I spent a weekend visiting Rancho del Cielo five years after my initial visit. At the retreat I also got to hear from David Horowitz, Ann McElhinney, and my favorite- Andrew Breitbart!
I just finished a semester-long internship in Washington at The Heritage Foundation, working in their Center for International Trade and Economics, and currently am excited to be a Young America’s Foundation Sarah T. Hermann Intern Scholar this summer. I am really looking forward to working with the Foundation these next few months to help ignite that fire and passion for conservatism in other students that Young America’s Foundation sparked in me.
Janie Abel is a Sarah T. Hermann Intern Scholar with Young America's Foundation