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.

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.

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.

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.


Being Inviting and Welcoming with New Friends

Cassidy Cheddar, 2014-15 National Grange Youth Ambassador

Cassidy Cheddar, 2014-15 National Grange Youth Ambassador

Cassidy Cheddar

2014-15 National Grange Youth Ambassador

Inviting people to Grange events is important to get new members into the organization. But what happens once they say “yes”? It’s also important to follow through after you invite friends to experience the Grange.

We’ve all been the new person at something. You may know one person and other than that, you’re kind of lost. This can be an uncomfortable time for people. And if a new person is at a Grange event, they may feel this way. Part of our job as Grangers is to make everyone feel welcome.

It might be difficult because we already have our own friends. Of course we want to hang out with them. But that other person wants a friend too. Go and talk to them. Ask what they’re interested in. Or maybe how they heard about Grange. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply talking to them can go a long way to make them feel more at ease. It’s about showing that you’re willing to make them feel comfortable. And it shouldn’t stop at that first meeting. Whenever you see them, say hi to them. It’ll help show that you actually care.

Think about a time when you went somewhere where you were fairly new. Maybe the first day of high school? Or the day a club met at school? How did it feel? You may have felt out of place or just awkward. Most of us go through this kind of situation at least once in our lives.

I experienced this during the first State Grange event I ever went to. It was State Session, so I knew a couple people, but not many. I felt slightly awkward when I walked in to the Youth Officer Team practice. There were a bunch of people who all seemed to know each other really well. Bu instead of just ignoring me because they already had friends, everyone was willing to include me. It was awesome. I got my first glimpse of how welcoming Grangers are from the very beginning. And pretty soon, I made friends with people that I still get to be friends with.

A huge part of Grange is the people that make up our “Grange family.” To a new person, it may be difficult if they see that aspect, but aren’t a part of it. But we can help solve that. Next time you see a new person, try to include them in what’s happening. They’ll feel so much better and you might even gain a new friend.

Freeda’s Findings: The Value of One Member

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

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

Greetings Grangers! I hope you all had a great Grange Month, promoting our organization and working on your youth and young adult programs. I was looking through Charlene’s Grange files and came across this poem written by a Granger as a reminder on the power, or value, of one Granger to changing their Grange.

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

So have you asked a friend to come to a Grange event? Or helped to develop a new Grange project to impact your community? If so, please let me know – I’d love you to hear your story.Until next time,