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.

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.

Trimble Legislative Experience-Emily Kurburski


My name is Emily Kurburski, and I am from the Great Lakes State of Michigan. I am 17 years old and have been a member of the Grange since the day I was born, and have since enjoyed all aspects of the Grange. I am beyond excited to have been selected for the Legislative Experience. I am looking forward to meeting lots of new people and gaining a valuable experience that I will be able to take with me for the rest of my life! I am beyond excited to have this legislative opportunity to gain more knowledge about the Grange’s legislative processes Emily Kurburskithat they use! I can’t wait to see what this week has in store for me!


Emily Kurburski

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.

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.