Five steps for youth legislative involvement

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 advocacy.

Point #1 — If your community grange does not have a legislative director/chair volunteer to serve. If your Grange has a legislative chair, ask to join the legislative committee. It’s a chance to step up and learn more about issues impacting your community and share it with your fellow Grangers.

Point #2 — Help your Grange to organize a legislative night. If an election year, host a candidates forum instead. The non-partisan stance of the Grange is a value to many legislators. Grange halls are a great forum for legislators and candidates to share their ideas, goals and listen to the concerns of the community. Legislative nights also have a news value and can generate publicity for the Grange.

Point #3 — Review state and national Grange policy books. See if a resolution is needed on an issue. Do research beforehand to make sure every is accurate. If you need help writing a resolution, ask others for help. As one Granger suggested, hosting a workshop about resolution writing can help encourage youth and Grangers craft resolutions to send to Pomona and state Grange for consideration. The youth department also has an achievement seal program to recognize Grangers for their participation.

Point #4 — Participate in National Grange Youth legislative programs, such as the John Trimble Legislative Experience. The Trimble Legislative Experience or a state-level program, gives Grange youth and young adults a chance to have a front-row seat to the delegate process. Trimble youth participate on a national delegate committee and is seated with the national delegates. They also assist the National Grange Legislative department.

Point #5 – Organize a subordinate Grange lecturer’s program based off the Apathy Not Allowed. The program promotes the value of Grange members engaging in the voting process. The United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts of all developed countries. The program reminds Grangers that twice a year, through a primary and general election, they have a chance to impact who their elected officials are.




Need an idea? Recipe for Success for youth department

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” book series.

The ideas are wide-ranging and can spark a new Grange project or a way to have fun.

For a sneak peek – Here’s an idea provide by Mariah Brooks of Avon Grange #125, Montana and Melanie Hackett, Haynie Grange #169, Washington State.

Don’t forget – if you have a great idea, send it to [email protected]

 Game/Movie Night/Lock-in

Mariah Brooks, Avon Grange #125, Montana

Number of People: 2-10 to organize

Money required: $30 to $40 – depends on if purchasing food or not

Other resources: Snacks, computer, sound system, projector, screen or large white, blank wall.

Set a date and time for the event. If at Grange hall, check for hall availability. If elsewhere, book the location.

This event could be a smaller-scale member “fun” event for Grangers and invite families or organized as a wider community event. If a public event, make signs to post on community boards and local businesses. Also post in newspaper and online communities calendars.

Decide how the Grange will organize snacks for the event. Either have members offer to bring snacks or purchase in the days before hand. Also organize to have popcorn available for the event.

A few hours before the event, set up the movie viewing area. Make sure the computer, projector and sound system work correctly. Organize “snack bar” area with drinks, snacks, popcorn. Enjoy.

Movie Night (Variation) – Use as a community outreach event

Melanie Hackett, Haynie #169, Washington State

Follow many of the outline points above. Use as a free community activity. It is a great way to invite people to the Grange and a chance to discuss the Grange at a fun community activity.


Eastern Regionals rewind

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 was on PI2 (PI squared) to encourage Grange involvement to encourage Grange growth. The second was based on the program, Apathy Not Allowed, or grassroots advocacy.

Michael Martin, National Membership director, presented a workshop on code reading. As expected, for many of the Grangers, it was the first time they had ever attempted the code reading. With some encouragement, Jenna Wyler, the 2014-15 Ohio State Grange Youth Ambassador earned a Thompson Achievement Seal for code reading.

The contests were very competitive, especially Grange Jepardy, where youth tested their Grange knowledge. Jennifer and Rob Beaman of Pennsylvania and Melanie Fitch of Ohio will represent the Eastern Region at the national contests. In the public speaking contest, the winner was Jenna Wyler of Ohio Melanie Fitch of Ohio earned the best of show sign a song.

The regionals was also a time for Grangers to enjoy getting to know others from other states, share Grange stories and create new friendships.

For a photos from the event, go to the National Grange Youth Facebook page.

PI 2 — Growing one member at a time

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 Grangers offered to work late. One forgot her promise, and then there were eight.
Eight creative Grangers had ideas good as heaven. One lost enthusiasm, then there were seven.
Seven loyal Grangers got into a fix. They quarreled over projects, then there were six.
Six Grangers still remained with spirit and drive. One moved away, then there were five.
Five steadfast Grangers wished that there were more. One became indifferent, then there were four.
Four cheerful Grangers who never disagree, ‘til one complained of meetings, then there were three.
Three eager Grangers, what do they do? One got discouraged, then there were two.
Two lonely Grangers, our rhyme is nearly done. One joined a pep team and then there was one.
One faithful Granger was feeling rather blue, met with a neighbor, and then there were two.
Two earnest Grangers each enrolled one more, doubling their number, then there were four.
Four determined Grangers, just couldn’t wait, ‘til each one won another, then there were eight.
Eight excited Grangers signed up sixteen more. In six more verses, there’ll be a
thousand twenty-four!!
— Author Unknown

Freeda Findings: Program Focus – William Saunders Achievement Award

Freeda the Mouse. The official mascot of the National Grange Youth Department.

Freeda the Mouse. The official mascot of the National Grange Youth Department.

Hi folks! It’s Grange Month and I thought it would be a good idea to talk about some of the programs in the National Grange Youth Handbook.

The first achievement award is the William Saunders Agricultural Achievement Award. This award celebrates our agricultural roots. It is designed as a self-discovery program about farming, agricultural sciences and related pursuits. New to the program this year participation in National Junior Horticultural Association programs is included in the awards.


Select a seal and try.


— Freeda


William Saunders Agricultural Achievement Award (Updated for 2015)

Sapphire: Visit a local farm and talk with the farmer about what it is like to run a farm. Write a short essay describing what you learned and send it to the National Youth Director. Or, if you live on a farm, develop a “know your farmer” project that could be shared at a Grange meeting or other outreach program. For example, ag in the classroom, farm-city day, dairy princess promotion or agriculture day on the hill.


Emerald: select an area of interest; learn as much about your selection as you can, prepare an exhibit and exhibit it at a community/county fair, Grange fair or exhibit day or meeting, trade fair, or in a local business. (Examples include: animals, crops, home improvements, home economics skills, Science, wood working, mechanical, computer technology, photography, art, musical talent, theatrical talents, etc.) Take pictures of your project, keep records of the expenses involved in the project, compare the costs involved with the potential profit, evaluate and write a conclusion about your project. Keep all your information in a notebook and present it to your State Youth Director who will apply for your Achievement Award.

Grange youth participating in the following NJHA contests qualify for an emerald award: Horticulture Artwork, Horticultural Photography: Digital Imagery, Horticultural Photography: Still Film; Promotion of Horticulture; Writing in Horticulture.


Silver: Develop, print and distribute a brochure, table tent card or display of your Grange and display at your local or state fair. Send a copy of the brochure, table tent card, or a picture of the display to the National Grange Youth Development Director, as well as photos of you at the fair with your display. Or publish a newsletter for your Grange or develop and/or design or maintain a Webpage or create a video or PowerPoint presentation promoting your Grange or a special activity sponsored by the Grange that could also be presented at a local or state fair. Also included are Facebook and YouTube presentations. Send a copy to the National Grange Youth Development Director.


Ruby: Plant a garden or a plant or develop an agriculture enterprise (livestock, dairy, direct farm sales, etc.) and keep a diary of the progress of your plants through pictures and words. Keep all your information in a notebook or record book and present it to your State Youth Director who will apply for your Achievement Award.

Grange youth participating in the following NJHA contests qualify for a ruby award: Horticultural Demonstration; Horticulture Identification and Judging Contest; NJHA’s Next Top Chef; Science and Horticulture: Environmental Awareness; Science and Horticulture: Experimental Horticulture; Science and Horticulture: Production: Awareness; Speaking in Horticulture; Extemporaneous Speaking Contest; Horticultural Performing Arts.


Gold: Organize a mutual event with your local FFA, 4-H, or other agricultural organization and your sub­ordinate/community or Pomona Grange. Let these groups explain what they do and do the same for the Grange. Have some kind of activity for the two groups to do together, such as games, discussions about agriculture, etc. Have the appropriate Grange director/Master (president) verify participation and send a copy to the National Youth Director.

Win NJHA Grand National Award at 2015 contests.


Making Healthy Grangers…A New Program Idea for Youth

Missy Mueller

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 youth. As we all know, the U.S. has been dealing with an obesity epidemic. Because youth are our future, we feel it is pertinent that young people start learning early how to lead a healthy life.

The Grangers on the Go program starts annually at North Carolina State Grange Winter Conference each February. This is where the youth set their own health goals for the year. The goals can be, but are not limited to, losing weight, eating healthy, or exercising. Fitness and food journals are provided to help youth record progress. We also send youth a personalized packet of information that offers tips and info to help achieve their goals and learn to live a healthier lifestyle.

One popular part of the program is helping youth to complete 5K races for charity. No matter what fitness level someone is, they can achieve completing a 5K through running or walking, and training information is given to youth who want to achieve this goal. The most competitive part of the program, however, is called Charity Miles. Youth are encouraged to download this free app to their phones, and each time they run, walk or bike, they open the app and start their activity. The app records their mileage and a certain amount of money per mile goes to the charity of their choice. In our state, we are raising money for “Stand Up for Cancer.” By joining the Grangers on the Go team through this app, youth are able to see the mileage of other youth and it becomes a competition to see who can log the most miles for charity.

By Sept. 15, participating youth are required to submit a report of their goals, adding any extra goals or successes that were achieved. Youth who excelled in the program are awarded at our State Convention. Prizes for these winners have included gift cards to athletic stores such as REI, Dicks Sporting goods, or Sports Authority. This is a great incentive to encourage youth to participate.

What I love about this program is that youth are able to support each other to achieve their goals. We really enjoy running and exercising together. I had never run a 5K race until this program started. I ended up running four races for charity with my Grange friends since the program started. I have also become inspired to complete a half marathon with my youth director. I encourage other states to implement health programs and incentives for their youth as well. You will be amazed at the success of your youth and their drive to succeed.

Growing through hands on agriculture

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 interest among youth and young adults to learn more about where their food comes from.
Gardening has come back into fashion as people reach into the soil, whether it is a traditional garden turned with a tractor and disc or raised beds in a backyard or in a container on a patio.
Horticulture can also lead to a career as it has been reported there is a shortage of college graduates to fill the jobs in this career field.
This year, the National Grange Youth Department announced a partnership with the National Junior Horticultural Association to connect youth with a new set of contests and programs. Below is the story written by Debbie Gegare, Wisconsin Grange youth director and NJHA youth coordinator for the “Jungle Echo” at the 2014 National Grange Session in Sandusky, Ohio.
Grange Youth partners with NJHA
DCI Communications Fellow
This year, the NationalGrange Youth Department and National Junior Horticultural Association have entered into a partnershipto encourage horticultural education. Horticultural education was a passion of Wib Justi, first National Grange Youth Development Director. He was involved withNJHA, fostering a partnership between the two organizations.
Starting in 2015, a Grange division has been added to the NJHA Horticultural Identification and JudgingContest. In addition, Grange youth can participate in other NJHA national contests such as demonstrations,speeches, photography, performing arts, and promotion
of horticulture to name a few.
“This will be a great way for our two youth organizations to collaborate on agriculture
and horticulture education and to stimulate interest for both groups,” said Charlene
Shupp Espenshade, National Grange Youth and Young Adults Director.
By participating in these contests, youth not only have a chance to win prizes in NJHA but also earn Grange Youth seals.
To learn more about these contests and for entry deadlines, check out the 2015 National Grange Youth Handbook at or go to

It’s Grange Month – how will you celebrate?

2015-Grange-Month-FB-BannerGrange month is a time for Granger to celebrate what makes our organization so wonderful. How will you celebrate? Will your Grange host an open house or a community night? Or, will your members organize a community service project?

No matter what you do, take advantage of Grange month to raise awareness of your friends and neighbors to the impact Grange can have on your community and their lives.

Need help? Go to the National Grange website for more information.

USDA to Provide $332 Million to Protect and Restore Agricultural Working Lands, Grasslands and Wetlands

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 Program (ACEP) on March 31.  USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept ACEP applications to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to protect the nation’s critical wetlands and grasslands, home to diverse wildlife and plant species.

“USDA helps farmers, ranchers, private forest landowners and partners to achieve their conservation goals using our technical expertise, Farm Bill funding and sound conservation planning,” Vilsack said. “Conservation easements are an important tool to help these landowners and partners voluntarily provide long-term protection of our nation’s farmland, ranchland, wetlands and grasslands for future generations.”

The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives. NRCS easement programs have been a critical tool in recent years for advancing landscape-scale private lands conservation. In FY 2014, NRCS used $328 million in ACEP funding to enroll an estimated 145,000 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through 485 new easements.

In Florida, NRCS used ACEP funds to enroll an additional 6,700 acres in the Northern Everglades Watershed, supporting the restoration and protection of habitat for a variety of listed species, including the Wood Stork, Crested caracara, and Eastern Indigo Snake. The Nebraska Land Trust plans to use ACEP to enroll more than 1,400 acres of native grazing lands that also include grasslands and woodlands that provide critical habitat for Nebraska’s bighorn sheep and elk.

ACEP’s agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, but they also support environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space. American Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements. A key change under the new agricultural land easement component is the new “grasslands of special environmental significance” that will protect high-quality grasslands that are under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development and other non-grazing uses.

Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements, and Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement; tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

ACEP applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS; however, applications for the current funding round must be submitted on or before May 15, 2015.

To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit or your local USDA Service Center.

Organizing a New Grange

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 anything new can be hard, but when you’re under 30 and in a city, the idea of starting a new Grange can be daunting. However, that’s just what we did.

For about a year or so we had been thinking “wouldn’t that be great if… I wish we had….” along with many other thoughts. We would tell friends about the wonderful things the Grange has to offer and their responses would often be “I can’t drive that far to do that” or “I don’t have a car, I can’t get there” or even “I don’t want to be the youngest person there.” So, we finally decided to get moving on starting a Grange in this area – Albany, N.Y.

It started with just some conversations, throwing around the idea. We made a Facebook page and invited people to like it. We held an interest meeting where people could come and learn about the benefits of being a member along with the great opportunities that you would have, and what do you know, by the end of the night we had 13 people sign our charter list; and Capital City Grange #1606 started.

Most Granges have their own building, so that was a big thing we had to address. We decided since we wanted to truly embrace our community, we would “library hop” and therefore we reserve a space in a meeting room in one of the six libraries in our city. We meet twice a month and we have members between the ages of 20 – 55. Our members are students, teachers, factory workers, stay at home moms, nurses, secretaries…you name it. It’s interesting to be the “know alls” in our group, as we are on the younger end of the spectrum. We spend our meetings learning about Grange ritual and history, as we teach those who do not have the experiences we have. We even brought three members to our Pomona meeting this month to continue to introduce more knowledge of the Grange and what we do as an organization.

Editor’s note: Emily serves as the Lecturer at Capital City Grange #1606, Lecturer and youth committee of Albany Pomona #4, youth committee, Ceres and Co-Director of Camp of New York State Grange. Matthew serves as the Master of Capital City Grange #1606, Steward of Bethlehem Grange #137, Steward of Albany Pomona #4 and Co-Director of Camp for New York State Grange.