It's not everyday someone leaves the sunny beaches of California for the windy streets of Bowling Green, but Esteban Tadeo feels so strongly about Progressive Future he did just that.
Tadeo, 26, came toBowling Green StateUniversity this fall to help register voters for Progressive Future, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising political awareness and mobilizing students to vote around the country.
While earning a degree in political science from San Marco State near San Diego, Calif., Tadeo became involved in student government and soon realized some students weren't interested in the elections.
"I found it was very challenging to get students to vote," he said.
After addressing California legislatures with student concerns and learning they didn't care about student issues, Tadeo was determined to get student voices heard.
"I found this pretty alarming," he said. "There are students that care."
Tadeo joined Progressive Future, trained as a campus community organizer and came to Ohio to register 2,500 students at the University before Oct. 6, the Wood County voter registration deadline.
Tadeo visits classrooms and trains student volunteers, giving them the skills to register voters, like teaching "clip boarding," "phone banking" and the "power stance."
"I train them to do what I do," he said. "This is really a student-led campaign. I'm just the person bringing the skills."
This week Progressive Future is hoping to gather at least 100 volunteers to register voters so they'll be ready for the Voter Registration Blitz next week.
The plan is to have the volunteers all on campus Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the week before the voter registration deadline, said Anne Halkias, Progressive Future organizer.
"[Esteban] can't register 2,500 people alone," Halkias said. "And it's historically shown most people wait until the last day to register."
Halkias, 24, took a two-month leave of absence from her job in Pennsylvania to work with Progressive Future. She is in charge of overseeing group members at BGSU, the University of Toledo, Wright State University and Miami University of Ohio.
She said Progressive Future has members in 12 different states with the ultimate goal of registering 500,000 voters total before the Nov. 4 election.
"The election is going to be really close," Halkias said. "Traveling to different campuses, [I see] students care about the same things."
She noted the War in Iraq, healthcare, the economy and higher education as major student issues.
Sophomore Kat Little volunteered to help register voters after someone from Progressive Future spoke to one of her classes.
Little stressed the importance of students using their voting power, saying she's most concerned about the healthcare issue and being kicked off her parents' insurance when she graduates in two years.
"It could come down to our state," Little said. "You need to vote."
Halkias encourages students to volunteer because they can learn skills they can use throughout their lives, like public speaking and organizational skills.
Tadeo said Progressive Future volunteers will be registering voters in the Union oval today starting at noon and encourages students to come out.
"The best way to voice your opinion is to vote," he said.
Students interested in volunteering with Progressive Future may contact Tadeo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 530-521-2582. Students are also encouraged to fill out the information cards they receive in class.