nationalyouthdirector wrote a new post, Great Plains Conference Challenges Grangers to Expand Their Horizons, on the site National Grange Youth & Young Adults 1 week ago
Grangers were challenged to take a leap of faith at the 2015 Great Plains Regional Leadership/Youth Conference. Members participated in the challenge course at the Hesperus Camp, Hesperus, Colo.
School is out for the summer! With the warmer days, it means GRANGE YOUTH CAMP! Camp is a highlight for many Grangers and with it comes the challenge of balancing fun, memories and leadership skills.
One of my […]
Pintrest is a great resource when you are looking for a new idea and collect them into an online database to review at a later time. One board on my account is Grange youth ideas. A second is for Junior Grange […]
nationalyouthdirector wrote a new post, Bringing an ‘Intrapreneurial’ Spirit to Your Grange, on the site National Grange Youth & Young Adults 1 month, 4 weeks ago
How often have you wanted to make a difference in your Grange and were left wondering how to get started? If you have, great! Now it’s time to tap your inner intrapreneur. What is an intrapreneur – it is a person […]
On Tuesday, April 21, the Grange Youth Department hosted its monthly TeamSpeak meeting. Grange youth member Christopher Szkutak shared five points on how Grange youth can participate with grassroots […]
nationalyouthdirector wrote a new post, Need an idea? Recipe for Success for youth department, on the site National Grange Youth & Young Adults 2 months, 2 weeks ago
It’s a work in progress, but the National Grange Youth Department has been working through the countless ideas collected in 2014. These ideas will become the youth department version of the “Recipe for Success” […]
A big thank-you to the Ohio State Grange for hosting the 2015 Eastern Regional Youth Conference.
National Grange Youth Ambassadors Cassidy Cheddar and Derek Snyder joined me to present two workshops. The first […]
This is a poem that was written to show the value of thinking positively and growth.
The Value Of One Member
Ten little Grangers standing in a line. One disliked the Master, then there were nine.
Nine ambitious […]
nationalyouthdirector wrote a new post, Making Healthy Grangers…A New Program Idea for Youth, on the site National Grange Youth & Young Adults 2 months, 3 weeks ago
2014 North Carolina Youth Ambassador
Two years ago, our state implemented a new program for youth called “Grangers on the Go.” This is a program that promotes healthy living among our Grange […]
The Grange has it’s roots in agriculture, but as an organization has evolved to become reflective of its communities. However, as the distance from the farm gate to the dinner plate has grown, there is a growing […]
nationalyouthdirector wrote a new post, USDA to Provide $332 Million to Protect and Restore Agricultural Working Lands, Grasslands and Wetlands, on the site National Grange Youth & Young Adults 3 months ago
WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture is making available $332 million in financial and technical assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement […]
By: Emily and Matt Shoop, New York State Grange Youth
When we hear about organizing a Grange, it is often a re-organization, or in an area where there once was a Grange or other rural organization. Starting […]
nationalyouthdirector wrote a new post, National Grange Youth Ambassadors Celebrate Ag Day, on the site National Grange Youth & Young Adults 3 months, 1 week ago
Young agriculturalists are often encouraged to seek internships or work for another farm before returning to the family farm. The object is to provide the aspiring farmer a chance to see how other farms operate. […]
Last week, the National Grange Youth Department started a LinkedIn group called National Grange Youth Connections. The purpose of the group is to start connecting Grangers of multiple generations. The strength of […]
It’s fair season across the United States as Grangers participate in local, county or state fairs. For Grange youth who have not had their fair yet, they will be helping with local Grange displays, helping at the Grange food booth, or possibly entering some of their best projects and livestock for judging.
Grangers have utilized fairs as a way to promote the work of the Grange and to encourage others to join the organization. However, Grangers are not the only folks using the fair as a promotional tool. People seeking office will as well. Fairs are an easy way to reach rural communities. They will shake hands, participate in fair contests and share their connection back to the farm.
This week, the Associated Press talked about the phenomenon. The story is follows.
Charlene Shupp Espenshade, National Grange Youth Director
Pigs, cows and votes: Candidates try for farm cred
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — For candidates in the Midwest, almost nothing tops a photo opportunity with a barnyard animal or a colorful anecdote about life on the farm.
Take Mary Burke, a former business executive running as a Democrat for governor in Wisconsin, who recently paused to check out the cows at a county fair. Or Illinois venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, who talks about his dairy farmer grandfather as a role model in his Republican bid for governor. And then there is Iowa U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst, a Republican who gained national attention with an ad touting her hog castration skills.
Most voters in these states don’t work on farms. Most candidates don’t either. But many of those seeking office seem to be stretching farther than ever for a barnyard background to establish some common-man authenticity.
“It’s the classic ‘I grew up in a log cabin and walked uphill to school both ways,'” said Sue Dvorksy, a former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.
Sometimes the connection requires a bit of tractor-pulling effort.
Rauner is a millionaire with two Ivy League degrees, but his official biography stresses that thanks to granddad: “Bruce knew how to ride a horse at 6, milk a cow at 8, and shoot a rifle at 10.” Burke’s main selling point is her successes with the family bicycle company, but a key photo on her website shows her in a denim shirt in front of a tractor.
Recently in Iowa, both the governor and lieutenant governor, who do have rural backgrounds, felt the need to also assert their animal slaughter resumes.
“I held the hogs while the veterinarian castrated it,” Gov. Terry Branstad said at a June news conference.
Then Lt. Gov. Kim Reynold chimed in: “I didn’t castrate hogs, but I do know how to skin a chicken and I can do that pretty well.”
So far, they have not demonstrated those skills on the campaign trail.
Nowhere is a rural record more desirable than Iowa, a state with strong farming roots even though two-thirds of the population lives in urban areas. Candidates here trek around farms, gobble pie at state fairs and talk farm subsidies. While Ernst’s ad became fodder for late-night comedy, it also struck a chord that helped propel the state lawmaker to victory in the five-way GOP primary.
“The great thing about Joni’s ad is people relate to her,” said Rob Jesmer, a Republican consultant.
Ernst, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard who was raised on a farm, now faces Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley in the battle to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin. The two are locked in a dead heat, and Ernst’s campaign has tried to brand Braley as a lawyer who doesn’t understand rural issues.
Braley’s campaign has countered that he was raised in a small town, his grandfather was a farmer and he worked agricultural jobs in his youth. But he spent time apologizing earlier this year after a video was released of him referring to senior Sen. Charles Grassley, a six-term Republican, as a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law.”
Since then, Republican operatives have tried to hit Braley with a video they say shows him claiming to be a farmer at a parade and with a story on a dispute he had with a neighbor at his vacation community over her chickens.
“Bruce understands what rural Iowa is all about because that’s where he came from,” said Braley campaign spokesman Jeff Giertz.
Candidates in nearby states are also reaching for rural connections.
In Nebraska, Republican Pete Ricketts selected Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann as his running mate in the governor’s race, citing his dairy farming experience. His Democratic opponent, Chuck Hassebrook, has touted the fact that he lives in a rural town.
And in Wisconsin, Burke cites her ancestors as she seeks to topple Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
“My great-grandparents were farmers,” said the former Trek Bicycle executive as she pet cows at the Rock County fair.
The candidates must be careful not to overreach. Of Rauner, Ken Snyder, a Chicago-based Democratic media consultant, notes: “everybody knows he didn’t make $53 million last year as a farmer.”
Rauner’s spokesman, Mike Schrimpf, said the candidate just wants voters to know “what guided his life.”
To the folks actually raising hogs, the fixation with farming may not be a bad thing, said Chris Peterson, a lifelong famer from Clear Lake, Iowa.
Since candidates “pander to everybody,” he said, “I’m glad they’re remembering us whichever way possible.”
___ Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont contributed to this report.
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