Granges Earn Distinguished Grange Youth Program Status

Two community Granges and three state Granges earned the distinction of Distinguished Grange Youth Program. The program, in its third year, recognizes Grange youth departments that have gone above and beyond in their programming to help with youth leadership development, personal growth, community service and education.

“These Granges have competed outstanding programs of work this year,” said National Youth Development Director Charlene Shupp Espenshade. “They have crafted unique community service projects, tackled distinct needs within their communities and states and helped Grange youth to grow.”

This year’s winning programs are:

State winners are New York, North Carolina and Washington State.

Subordinate winners North Cameron Grange #355, New York and Humptulips Grange #730, Washington State.

Kurburski Selected for Grange Legislative Experience

Emily KurburskiEmily Kurburski of Harbor Springs, Mich. joined the National Grange delegates at the 149th session of the National Grange. She was selected as a part the John Trimble Legislative Experience.

The program, sponsored by the National Grange Youth Foundation, provides Grange youth, ages 14-21, and Grange young adults, ages 22-35, the opportunity to participate as a member of the National Grange delegate body. Youth are allowed to be seated with the state Grange delegates and participate in Grange committee discussion. Prior to the session opening, Kurburski has worked with a policy committee evaluating policy resolutions passed by the state Granges.

Starting on Nov. 10 and through Friday, she will join the delegates on the session floor as they make the final decisions on National Grange policy.

“The Legislative Experience program provides Grange youth a front-row seat to the decision-making process of the National Grange delegates,” said Charlene Shupp Espenshade, National Grange Youth Development Director. “The delegates will be addressing the resolutions sent up from the state Granges for their consideration. The topics will range from agriculture to education and national policy debates to how to improve the National Grange.”

The delegates opened the 149th session yesterday in Lincoln, Neb., to begin their deliberations.

Emily Kurburski, 17, is the daughter of Foster and Ann Kurburski from Harbor Springs, Mich. She calls herself a lifelong Granger, joining as a Junior Granger. Her other activities include 4-H, Family Campers and RV’ers, DECA, Crooked Tree Youth Leadership, Honor Society and Girl Scouts. In school, she is a member of the varsity golf team. She has attended state, regional, and national Grange events as a Junior Granger and as a youth Grange member.

Once she graduates from high school, she would like to attend college and study operation and supply chain management.


To learn more about the National Grange Youth Program, go to

National Grange Youth Department Names Outstanding Young Patrons, Youth Ambassadors

2015-16 National Youth Ambassadors, Young PatronsLINCOLN, Neb. — Rob and Jennifer Beamon of Pennsylvania; Shannon Ruso of New York and Brodi Olds of North Carolina were selected to be a members of the 2015-16 National Grange youth team as the Outstanding Young Patrons and National Grange Youth Ambassadors.

They were selected at the Evening of Excellence at the 149th National Grange Session in Lincoln, Neb.

“These young people will travel for the next year, promoting the Grange, connecting with other Grange youth and focusing on Grange growth,” said Charlene Shupp Espenshade, National Grange Youth Development Director.

The youth ambassadors and outstanding young patrons will travel to regional youth/leadership conferences, assist with program development for the National Grange Youth department and represent the department at various events.

The National Outstanding Young Patrons, Robert and Jennifer Beamon, are from Lebanon, Pa. and members of Hamburg Grange #2103. They have an eight-month-old daughter Savanah Mae. The pair met at Lycoming College where they both majored in chemistry. They are employed by Bayer HealthCare where they work in a chemistry laboratory testing raw materials and products. They are also the Pennsylvania State Grange Young Couple.

National Grange Youth Ambassador Shannon Ruso is a member of Ravena Grange #1457. She is from New Baltimore, N.Y and this year’s New York State Grange Youth Ambassador. She is the daughter of Jeffry and Sandra Ruso. In Grange, she is the Junior Matron for her local Junior Grange and Ravena’s secretary. Ruso is enrolled at Columbia-Greene Community College.

National Grange Youth Ambassador Brodi Olds of Greensboro, N.C. Olds is a member of Summerfield #661. The son of Charles and Jenifer Olds is a junior at East Carolina University majoring in business. Outside of school, he enjoys playing football, listening to music and playing guitar. At church, he is a Young Life Leader. He is a member of the state Grange Youth Team, has competed in public speaking contests and was a member of the state’s youth Grange parliamentary procedure team.

The other youth and young adults participating are as follows.

The youth and young adults participating are as follows.

Iowa – Emma Edelen
North Carolina – Emily Harrison
Ohio – Jenna Wyler
Ohio – Jason Shiltz
Pennsylvania – Lindsay Schroeder

Young Couples
Colorado – Daniel and Jennifer Greer
Illinois Adam and Sara Ellwanger
To learn more about the National Grange Youth Department go to This program is sponsored by the National Grange Youth Foundation. Farm Credit also sponsored the leadership development program.

Editor’s note: Biographies about each winner are as follows.


Young Couples

Colorado – Daniel and Jennifer Greer

Daniel Greer was raised on the Greer Homestead in Marvel, Colo. Jenna was born and raised in Colorado, spending much of her childhood growing up around a farm. The Greers married at age 18 and just celebrated their 10th anniversary. They have four children, Billy, 9; Nathen, 7; Brianna, 5; and Jake, 3. Dan is the DOT compliance officer for Crossfire, LLC. Jenna is a stay-at-home mom, busily raising their four kids. Recently, the Greers started a “jam session” at the Marvel Grange Hall, where musicians can gather for a fun time to play and sing. It has helped to raise attention to their Grange in the community.


Illinois – Adam and Sara Ellwanger

Adam and Sara Ellwanger have been married for eight years and reside in Belvidere, Ill, with their 2-year-old daughter, Scarlette. They met at a National Session in Portland, Ore. “We can honestly say we owe our lives to the Grange,” they said. Adam has been a member of Prairie Grange #1832 all of his life. Sara joined at Mt. Allison Grange in Colorado at the age of 13, and joined Prairie Grange when she moved to Illinois. Both are very active in their local Grange holding the offices of Overseer and Steward. Adam is the Illinois State Grange Overseer and Sara is the State Grange’s community service director. Adam is employed as a firefighter with the City of Belvidere Fire Department. Sara works for the Rock River Valley Blood Bank as a phlebotomist.


Pennsylvania – Robert and Jennifer Beamon

Robert and Jennifer Beamon are from Lebanon, Pa. and members of Hamburg Grange #2103. They have an eight-month-old daughter Savanah Mae. The pair met at Lycoming College where they both majored in chemistry. They married after college and are employed by Bayer HealthCare where they work in a chemistry laboratory testing raw materials and products. They are the Pennsylvania State Grange Young Couple and enjoyed traveling across the state with the State Youth Ambassadors and Junior Grange Prince and Princess. Jennifer is the Pennsylvania State Grange Ceres.


Iowa – Emma Edelen

Emma Edelen is a junior at Minnesota State University, Mankato, studying earth science education. Her long-term plan is to teach high school geology and astronomy. She is also a member of the college’s women’s track and field team. She competes in weight throw, hammer throw, discus throw, and shot put. She is the daughter of Gene and Maria Edelen and has a sister Rachel. They are members of Chester Royal Grange #2181. Edelen is the Iowa State Grange Chaplain.


New York – Shannon Ruso

Shannon Ruso is a member of Ravena Grange #1457. She is from New Baltimore, N.Y and this year’s New York State Grange Youth Ambassador. She is the daughter of Jeffry and Sandra Ruso. She has one brother who is a captain in the Army and a sister who is a social worker. In Grange, she is the Junior Matron for her local Junior Grange. She is also Ravena’s secretary. She is enrolled at Columbia-Greene Community College and is on the Dean’s List.


North Carolina – Emily Harrison

Emily Harrison is the daughter of Rick and Genia Harrson, Newton Grove, N.C. She is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is majoring in political science. She said that Grange has opened up many opportunities for her, including serving as this year’s North Carolina State Youth Ambassador. She enjoys baking, crafting and participating in community theater in her spare time.


North Carolina – Brodi Olds

Brodi Olds of Greensboro, N.C. is this year’s North Carolina Youth Ambassador. He is a member of Summerfield #661. The son of Charles and Jenifer Olds is a junior at East Carolina University majoring in business. Outside of school, he enjoys playing football, listening to music and playing guitar. At church, he is a Young Life Leader. He is a member of the state Grange Youth Team, has competed in public speaking contests and was a member of the state’s youth Parli-Pro Team.


Ohio – Jenna Wyler

Jenna Wyler is the Ohio State Grange Youth Ambassador from Fresno, Ohio. She is a member of Progressive Valley Grange #2433. She is the 17-year-old daughter of John and Annette Wyler and has a brother Kurt. Jenna is a third generation dairy and grain farmer. She enjoys showing her cattle and swine at the county fair and the Ohio Dairy Expo. In Grange, she holds the office of Lady Assistant Steward. She is a member of the Ridgewood FFA Chapter and is chapter president. She is on the worship committee at Fresno United Methodist Church.


Ohio – Jason Shiltz

Jason Shiltz is from Tory, Ohio and is the son of Stephen and Jennifer Shiltz. He is a junior in high school and a member of the Troy High School Marching Band. He plays flute in marching band, tenor saxophone in the jazz band. He has participated in high school musicals, men’s chorus, and symphonic choir. After high school, he plans to study music in college. A member of Stauton Grange #2685, he has enjoyed representing the youth department at different events as the Ohio Youth Ambassador. He also attended the National Grange Legislative Fly-In this spring.


Pennsylvania – Lindsay Schroeder

Lindsay Schroeder, 20, is the Pennsylvania State Grange Youth Ambassador. She is the youngest of five children. She is the daughter of Monte and Rebecca Schroeder of Shoemakersville, Pa. She is a member of Virginville Grange #1832. She is a nanny for two families and building her photography career. She also coaches a U12 girls’ soccer team in the Kutztown Soccer Club. She is also a Sunday School teacher for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten groups.

National Grange Youth Department Selects National Youth Officer Team

LINCOLN,2015 National Grange Youth Officer Team Neb. – The National Grange Youth Officer Team took center stage on Nov. 13 at the 149th National Grange Session at the Cornhusker Hotel, Lincoln, Neb. This team represents a cross-section of youth from across the United States.

The program, sponsored by the National Grange Youth Foundation, provides Grange youth, ages 14-21, and young adults, ages 22-35, the opportunity to conduct the business of the National Grange for the opening of the Friday morning session.

“It is a very unique opportunity for Grange youth to put on a National Grange officer sash and conduct a portion of the business dealings for the 149th session,” said Charlene Shupp Espenshade, National Grange Youth Development Director. “Grangers will pack into the meeting hall to watch the youth open the session.”

Bailey Shufeldt of the Oklahoma State Grange will preside over the meeting as the Master. The drill will be organized by Joshua Bethany of the Florida State Grange and Rachel Edelen of the Iowa State Grange.

In addition to presiding over the meeting, the youth will participate in several youth leadership development trainings, complete a community service project and take in the sites of Nebraska.

Members of the 2015 officer team are as follows:

Master – Bailey Shufeldt, Okla.

Overseer Philip Vonada, Pa.

Lecturer- Samantha Hanson, Iowa

Steward – Darby Madewell, N.C.

Assistant Steward – Joshua Bethany, Fla.

Lady Assistant Steward – Rachel Edelen, Iowa

Chaplain – Melanie Fitch, Ohio

Treasurer – Leah Bardal, Wash.

Secretary – Katie Kurburski, Mich.

Gatekeeper Landan Woolard, N.C.

Ceres – Jessi Jo Gutridge – Ore.

Flora – Marie Jones, N.C.

Pomona – Rylee Furr, N.C.

Executive Committe – Dominick Breton, Colo; Grace Wadsworth, Pa.; Melody Shufeldt, Okla.; Emily Hartsell, N.C.


To learn more about the National Youth Officer Team or the Natinoal Grange Youth Program, go to


Editor’s note:

Biographies on the winners are as follows.

National Youth Officer Team

Master – Bailey Shufeldt-Oklahoma

Bailey Shufeldt, 19, is the daughter of Billy and Welina Shufeldt. She has two older brothers and one younger sister. She is a sophomore at Coffeyville Community College and a Proud Ravens cheerleader. She is studying to be a physical therapist. She is a member of the Coffeyville Grange #351. This past summer, she had the opportunity to work for the Universal Cheer Association as a cheer instructor.


Overseer– Phil Vonada, Pennsylvania

Phil Vonada hails from central Pennsylvania, growing up near State College, Pa. A member of Penns Valley Grange #158, he was appointed as a Pennsylvania State Grange Advocate (deputy) this year and is a member of the State Junior Grange Committee. He is the youngest son of Dale and Ruth Vonada. He has a Masters of Arts in theatre from Villanova University and has worked at all levels of theater including community, collegiate, regional and professional. He is also a member of the Penn State Collegiate Grange advisory board.


Lecturer – Samantha Hanson, Iowa

Samantha Hanson and her husband, Brad, have been married for just over a year and live in Grinnell, Iowa. She is a substitute teacher and is in charge of a camp during the summer. She has been a member of the Grange since 2001, holding offices at the subordinate and state level. She is a member of Sonora Grange #2176 and is their lecturer. She is also the Iowa State Grange Ceres and the State Youth and Junior director.


Steward – Darby Madewell, North Carolina

Darby Madewell is the daughter of Alan and Margaret Madewell, from Raleigh, N.C. She attends North Carolina State University, double majoring in engineering and political science with a minor in theater. She grew up in Bushy Fork Grange in the Junior and Youth Programs and serves on the North Carolina State Grange Youth Team. Outside of Grange, she is involved in theater with both acting and behind the scenes technical work.


Assistant Steward — Josh Bethany, Florida

Josh Bethany of Palmetto, Fla. is a member of Manatee Grange #179. As a Junior Granger, he was the Master for 2 years, and since joining the subordinate Grange he has enjoyed participating in their community service projects. He has volunteered with local agricultural museum events, presented lecturer’s programs and has worked to recruit his friends to join the grange. He also helps out with his church’s vacation bible school.


Lady Assistant Steward – Rachel Edelen, Iowa

The youngest daughter Gene and Maria of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rachel Edelen is a member of Chester Royal Grange #2181. She has a sister Emma. Rachel is taking college classes and working on her liberal arts degree. She’d like a career in realty, insurance or another related business field.


Chaplain- Melanie Fitch – Ohio

Melanie Fitch is a member of Olivesburg Grange in Ohio, and a third generation Granger. In the past, she was the Ohio State Grange Junior Princess and Youth Ambassador. She has graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in business and organizational communications. Melanie interned one summer for the National Grange in the membership department. She has served on the state youth committee and been the Master of the state youth drill team.



Treasurer – Leah Bardal, Washington State

Leah Bardal is a member of the Washington State youth team and past state Grange Youth Ambassador. She is a Junior Grange leader for Pleasant Hill Grange #101. Before joining the Grange, she was a Junior Grange member. In her Pomona Grange, she has started a community service project collecting pajamas, socks and underwear for local foster kids. She continues her Grange service as a camp counselor at Camp Morehead for the past four years.


Secretary – Katie Kurburski, Michigan

Kaite Kurburski is a third generation granger from Harbor Springs Grange #730. She is the daughter of Foster and Anne Kurburski. She is one of six children. She is 16 and a sophomore at Petoskey High School. She plays golf and basketball. Her other organization include 4-H, Scottish Highland Dance, FCRV and Crooked Tree Youth Leadership.


Gatekeeper – Landan Woolard, North Carolina

Landon Wollard hails from Washington, N.C. and is the youngest son of Timothy and Melissa Woolard. He has two older brothers Tyler and Cole. A senior in high school, he plans to attend North Carolina State to major in engineering. He was named the 2014 Male Scholastic Athlete of the Year at school where he plays basketball, baseball and soccer.


Ceres – Jessie Jo Guttridge, Oregon

Jessie Jo Guttridge is a member of Springwater Grange #263 and from Estacada, Ore. She is a member of her high school’s GSA and has served as president for the past several years. She enjoys theater and has participated in school plays and the Springwater Grange theater group. Her family operates a small diversified farm with beef cattle, rabbits and chickens. She plans to study agriculture and natural resource management during college and would like to work as an Extension agent and conservation agency.


Flora – Marie Jones, North Carolina

Marie Jones is from Garner, N.C., and the daughter of Cliff and Colette Jones. She has two brothers Stpehen and Nicholas. She is majoring in secondary education to become a math teacher. She is a member of Southern Wake Grange #1295.


Pomona – Rylee Furr, North Carolina

Rylee Furr is a member of St. John’s Grange #729 and from Mt. Pleasant, N.C. She is the daughter of Philip and Lori Furr. She has three younger brothers Caden, Mason, and Jacob. Rylee is a senior in high school and plans to attend North Carolina State and study chemistry and Spanish. She plays high school basketball and softball. Outside of school, church and sports, she said she really enjoys Grange and it has helped her gain confidence.


Executive Committee

Dominick Brenton, Colorado

Dominick Breton is a member Wheat Ridge Grange. He has been a member for approximately ten years. He has been involved in the Wheat RIdge Grange Community Service project in Share Colorado as a boy scout since he was 12 years old. He is an Eagle Scout and has been a leader, and district leader until about two years ago. He is Lecturer of Wheat Ridge Grange. He is president of Kiwanis and very active in the city of Wheat Ridge. He is involved in Club 20-20. He works for Safeway and has since he was a teenager. He is an assistant manager and in charge of most of Safeway’s community service projects.



Grace Wadsworth, Pennsylvania

Grace Wadsworth is the daughter of David and Ellen Wadsworth and a member of Goshen Grange in Pennsylvania. She has been a Junior Grange camp counselor and served on the state Grange Youth State Officer Team. She has also attended state Grange youth camps and youth regional conferences.


Melody Shufeltdt, Oklahoma

Melody is the daughter of Billy and Welina Shufeldt. She is in her freshman year at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Okla., on a cheer scholarship. She also has been employed at the Coffeyville Sonic since she turned 16. She is a native American of the Cherokee tribe. Melody is a member of Coffeyville Grange #351.


Emily Hartsell, North Carolina

Emily Hartsell is from Concord, N.C. She grew up in St. John’s Grange in the Junior and Youth Programs, and serves as the NC State Grange Junior Director. She is also a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church where she serves as the Sunday School Secretary. She is married to John and they have two daughters, Ryleigh and Reagan. They enjoy spending time as a family, taking our daughters to the beach, to the lake, and to dance class.


Youth Activity Idea

Lindsay SchroederOne of our activities for our youth was to meet at a local Grange hall and just spend time with each other. We had make your own pizza for dinner, and had plenty of snacks! We had a Wii that had many choices of games. And we also enjoyed playing musical chairs.

This way, there is no set time for anyone, and they could come and go as they please. Everyone liked to be relaxed and could have choices on what they wanted to do.

-Lindsay Schroeder

Countdown to Nationals

Greetings from the National Grange youth department. I hope you are making plans to attend some of the youth activities at the 2015 national session in Lincoln, Neb.

The National Youth Ambassadors and I have been hard at work with members of the host committee to deliver an action-packed set of youth days.

Things kick off on Wed. Nov. 11 as the state youth ambassadors, young couples and National Youth Officer Team arrive at the Cornhusker Hotel. The youth will attend session, plus participate in mixer games to get things started.

Thursday is when the youth will get to take in the sights of Lincoln. We will visit the Nebraska State Capitol and learn about the state’s unique legislative branch. Unlike many states, Nebraska has a unicameral, rather than a bicameral (two body), legislative branch. Since we are in the “Cornhusker State,” the youth will swing by the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. After lunch, our youth tour will conclude at People’s City Mission for the community service project.

The evening’s dinner will take place at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus. During the bus tour there, we will pass through the campus, and youth will be able to see many of the university farms and it’s connection to the land-grant mission for agricultural research. The dinner speaker will be Dr. Tom Field, who heads up the College of Agriculture’s Entrepreneur Program.

The night will cap off with the annual youth costume party and dance. This year’s theme is “ultimate sports fan.” Everyone is encouraged to rock out their gear promoting their favorite football, baseball, basketball, hockey, or sports team.

Friday morning the National Youth Officer Team will open the day’s session. There will be workshops offered in the morning by National Membership Director Joe Stefenoni on Grange growth. The afternoon workshops will be presented by University of Nebraska professors and focus on Social Media 2.0 and how to use the next generation of social media platforms to promote the Grange.

The Youth Ambassadors and Young Couples will be recognized at the Evening of Excellence and the 2015-16 National Grange Youth Ambassadors and Outstanding Young Patrons will be selected.

Saturday morning is contest day for the youth department. The Grange Parliamentary Procedure contest and Grange Jeopardy Contest will fill the morning’s activities. Youth teams will show their meeting management skills conducting the basic business of a Grange meeting. This program is sponsored by the North Carolina State Grange.

The Grange Jeopardy Contest follows the same format at the television show where several Grange youth from each region will compete to win a tablet, sponsored by DCI Communications.

Youth events are open to all ages and I would encourage you to stop by and support the Grange youth and young adults.

See you in Lincoln!


Great Plains Conference Challenges Grangers to Expand Their Horizons

Derek Snyder discusses how to prepare for a legislative meeting.

Derek Snyder discusses how to prepare for a legislative meeting.

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.

Grangers had to choose one of three ways up the course to the platform about 20 feet in the air to take the zipline down the hill. Members could climb a rock wall, cargo net or up a pole with cleat hand/footholds.

“It was absolutely amazing to watch Grangers battle their fears to reach the top and then take the ‘leap of faith’ to go down the zip line,” said National Grange Youth Director Charlene Shupp Espenshade. “Other Grangers cheered members on as they tried to overcome difficulties to reach the top.”

Colorado State Grange organized this year’s conference. The event included a mix of workshops, activities and projects from the youngest junior Granger to adults. Junior Grangers worked on centerpieces for the National Grange Session Junior Breakfast.

National Grange Youth Ambassador Derek Snyder led an Apathy Not Allowed workshop

Grangers took on the challenge to ride a zip line.

Grangers took on the challenge to ride a zip line.

with Espenshade. Grangers chose to prepare a key request in support of rural broadband – showing how broadband access could improve education opportunities, business growth and access to critical medical care. They presented their viewpoint to “Congressman Snyder” who eventually agreed with their position.

National Membership Director Michael Martin presented a workshop on the ritualisic elements of the Grange.

Grangers also participated in the pubic speaking, sign-a-song and Grange Jeopardy contests.

Daniel Greer of Colorado topped the prepared speech contest earning the Best of Show award. Beth Simons of Colorado earned the Best of Show award in the sign-a-song contest.

Three Coloradoans qualified to represent the Great Plains Region in Grange Jeopardy, Daniel Greer, Beth Simons and Dominick Breton.

Photos from Great Plains Conference can be viewed at the National Grange Youth Facebook page at



Teambuilding idea: Marshmallow towers

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 favorite teambuilding projects is marshmallow towers. The idea is very basic, take the given tools in a bag and work with your group to create the tallest tower you can.

What do you need:

Supplies needed:

  • Spaghetti (uncooked)
  • Marshmallows
  • Paper plate
  • Prize or reward (optional)

Create teams of Grange youth between 4 to 8 Grangers.


Give each group some marshmallows and spaghetti. The goal of the exercise is to build the tallest tower possible out of the spaghetti and marshmallows.

Allow the students 10-15 minutes to accomplish this. The team that has the highest tower wins a prize.


Afterwards, you could have the groups discuss 1) how well did your team work together, 2) who most helped the group pursue its goal, 3) what role did you play in the group, and 4) what would you do differently if given a second chance at this activity?


The activity can be modified to use toothpicks, tested to see what tower can withstand the greatest amount of weight, etc. This activity also works well as an icebreaker by encouraging intermingling among the Grange youth.

Spreading the Word About Ag

Cassidy Cheddar

National Grange Youth Ambassador

Cassidy Cheddar, 2014-15 National Grange Youth Ambassador

Cassidy Cheddar, 2014-15 National Grange Youth Ambassador

We all know the importance of agriculture in our everyday lives; it provides us with food, clothing, and shelter that we would not be able to function without. But just because we know about it, doesn’t mean that everyone else does. I once assisted with a program where fifth graders rotated through stations about food production. I was amazed how much they didn’t know about agriculture. Some didn’t even know milk comes from a cow. Through interacting with these kids, I realized I had taken this so much knowledge for granted. I also realized that we have a grand tool for spreading the word about agriculture: advocating.

Advocating for agriculture may seem like a daunting task; it doesn’t have to be. Programs like the one I attended can reach a huge audience and make a large impact. However, you can spread the importance of agriculture throughout your daily life and involvement in the Grange. It can be as easy as striking up a conversation with a stranger about where their food comes from. Or it can be more in depth, such as an event in your town set up by your local Grange.

My home Grange hosts a coloring contest for June is Dairy Month with the local library every year. We set up a display in the Children’s Library explaining why dairy products are important. If a child checks out a book, they receive dairy paraphernalia such as erasers from our local dairy association. Kids can then color a dairy related picture that is hung for display in the library. At the end of June, judges choose winners for the contest and we invite them to an awards ceremony. Here, Dairy Princesses present programs and the children are rewarded for their efforts.

This type of event helps promote why a certain branch of agriculture is important in a person’s life. Many adults know that dairy can provide better nutrition to improve health. However, since this event is targeted towards children, the younger generation are able to learn the importance of the dairy industry at an earlier age.

If you do choose to establish an advocacy event, begin by finding a need. You may notice an aspect of agriculture that is misunderstood or is not thought of as important. From this need, you can create a clear message of what you want people to learn from your campaign. Maybe it’s that dairy is a good source of nutrition and therefore the dairy industry is very important. Whatever it is, a clear message will help develop your plan of action down the road.

In addition, identify your audience. Every audience will have a different set of background knowledge and motivators. By narrowing your focus a bit, you can tailor your message to what your audience wants and needs to know. Your audience may already know the basics of agriculture. It might be helpful to bump the intenseness of the information up a notch. But if you want to reach a wider group or one that isn’t as familiar with the topics, keeping it more basic will be helpful.

Your audience also affects what an effective delivery vehicle will look like. Not everyone will find the same type of implementation useful or engaging. In our program, we were tailoring our activities towards children. Because we had this main audience we could choose a specific method of delivering our message that works for kids. In this case, that method happened to be a coloring contest. Even though the children may have been the main audience, we have others as well. Adults who were accompanying the children or even just passers-by would have been able to view our display. Because of this, the display contained pamphlets that were aimed towards both children and adults. Try to think if you would have any secondary audience members. Then you can spread the word to even more people at the same time.

It might seem like there’s a lot to think about when planning an advocacy campaign. You need a message, clear audience, and effective delivery method. And, these aspects will all change based on your situation. However, have a little bit of fun with it. You’ll be engaged while advocating. And if you are, chances are, your audience will be a lot more receptive of your message as well. Even if you decide not to plan a whole event, try sharing your story. Even that one little bit can help a lot of others.

Camp idea to try: Yard Yahtzee

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 activities, but that’s for a different time.

One of the ideas that has been floating around on the site and pinned on one of my boards is the concept of “yard Yahtzee.”

The idea is you craft oversized dice that can be thrown in the backyard to add a different concept to the traditional table game.

It could also be used as a way to create a team building activity or an icebreaker game.

Many of the ideas for the game on Pintrest use 6-inch by 6-inch wood cubes that are painted and then have the dots added to them. And, if your family or Grange youth group would be regular players of the game, it’s the way to go. However, if you are looking for a simpler, and less expensive way to try out the game, go for white craft Styrofoam instead. To add the dots to the die, use a dowel to create the indent and then color the dots with craft paint or maker. Our family used the Styrofoam dice to play the game during the annual “cousins camp” at the farm. It was a hit and one of its draws for the kids was the novelty of the game.

If using at camp, I would recommend downloading the rules from Hasbro just to clarify any confusion for how the game will be played. For the rules, go here:

To roll the dice, have a bucket handy to “shake and toss” them across the lawn. Enjoy!