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.

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!



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

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.

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.

Grange shadowing

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. They learn practices they like or get hands on experience with a process or management practice they are considering implementing at home. They also learn how it is to work for others and gather some practical experience.

Aspiring farmers often pick up apprenticeships for some hands on experience.

How does this fit into our Grange experience? The question, “how to do we…” is one I often hear as Grangers are seeking ideas to create new programs, generate excitement among their members or building their local youth program. I am a big believer in hands-on learning, so spending time with a neighboring Grange to learn about one of their successful programs or how they create that excitement among their members could provide some tips and ideas to take home. Thus, “Grange shadowing.”

This does not mean your Grange or youth department has to morph into an exact replica of the Grange you are shadowing. Instead, like these young farmers, you see what practices, activities and ideas could work at your Grange and what ones might not. The goal is how to advance your Grange for future success.

Grange shadowing could be more than just attending meetings. It could include volunteering at an event they organize that you are interested in bringing to your home Grange. If your Grange does not participate in a visitation program, usually among Granges in a Pomona, create a hybrid of the idea. Find a “sister” Grange you could develop a relationship with. The ideas are limitless.