From the Director’s Chair: Create Management Mondays

One of the most overwhelming parts of being a youth director is keeping up with all of the details of the job and balancing family, work, and farm. My farm office desk gets overwhelmed very easily.

About a year ago, I was doing my daily blog check and a headline comes flying across the feed: “Create Management Mondays.” I was intrigued. So, I clicked and read.

Lou Tonneson at Farm Progress shared several suggestions from David Koupal, a South Dakota Extension farm business management instructor.

“We know there are specific dates throughout the year to mark on your calendar: weddings, Black Friday, all the holidays, church functions, school activities, date night with your spouse, and the list goes on. What I want you to do is set aside Management Monday to do your management records,” he says. “The No. 1 issue with many of my clients is trying to find time to complete their monthly records. I agree it is hard during the year to get those records complete on a regular basis. So what I would like to suggest is Management Mondays. Pick out one or two Mondays during the month to work on the record-keeping. Depending on the size of your operation, this procedure may take anywhere from an hour to most of the day. Some may be able to stay current with only one Monday a month, where others may need to devote more time.”

The suggestions go on to say:

“The biggest obstacle is to have self-discipline to dedicate the time to complete the records. By consistently completing records on a monthly basis, I see more accuracy with my own book-keeping. Staying current with billing statements helps keep track of payments and may avoid late fees,” he says.

In order to have success with Management Mondays, everyone in the operation needs to respect the person who completes the records, Koupal says.

How does this work in my role as a youth director. It designates a time to tackle the needed filings, record keeping and planning for the department. It does not have to be Monday, and could easily be “Management Saturday” or “Management Thursday” if that works better in your schedule.

I have found by designating a dedicated time in my calendar, it carves out a defined time for department work.

I have worked at the “Management Monday” program with my farm business. I am not perfect, but I have found the “Management Monday” program has helped to manage the to-do list on my desk. I hope it might help you as well.

–  Charlene Shupp Espenshade, National Grange Youth Director

Motivational Monday Idea: Easter Egg Hunt

Looking for an idea to engage your community? Here’s is one of the many ideas from the 2016 National Grange Youth’s edition of “Recipes for Success.” These are tired-and-true activities from Grange youth, youth leaders and others to help encourage youth involvement.

With Easter a few weeks away, an Easter Egg Hunt is one way to generate community involvement. The members of Pleasant Lodge #134 in Indiana host this event annually according to Grange member Jason Smith.

The details are as follows.

Easter Egg Hunt

Type of Project: Community Service

Time: Preparation: 2-3 days, Event: 1 day

Number of People:10-25

Budget: $750-800

Other Ingredients: Candy, Plastic Eggs, Gifts

Skills Necessary: Planning, advertising, arranging prizes

Mix: Fill Easter eggs with candy.

Break children up into 4 age brackets

Hold hunt based on age groups

Notes: Have a fun carnival game area while waiting for hunt to start; prizes could be included.

Examples include Egg toss, Easter plinko, Photo board.

Life in a Presidential Campaign

Editor’s note: Thanks to past state New Hampshire State Grange Jim Tetreault for submitting this post about his experiences volunteering with a presidential campaign.

How does someone get involved in a Presidential Campaign? First it takes a passion for an individual candidate and an interest in politics. It takes a thick skin not to be offended by what your family and friends may think of that the candidate of your choice. For instance one of my favorite cousins who I am very close to thinks that my candidate is the absolute scum of the earth so I see a steady flow of attacks on face book! I don’t comment I just let him exercise his first amendment rights to free speech.

In my case the interest in politics started in the Grange, even as a youth member I was always fascinated by the Legislative Report, as I look back on it now I thought wow “old people” give those reports but in hindsight I now realize that they were people the same age as I am now! Year latter when I became Legislative Director of the New Hampshire State Grange, and having the opportunity to be mentored by Brother Leroy Watson, I figured out I was a “darn good Lobbyist” and wanted to move beyond the Lobbying world and more into the political side of the spectrum. My political life actually started by becoming a local elected official I have served as the Town Clerk and the Tax Collector for the Town of Winchester since March of 2007, I have a job that I have strived to become good at and my goal is always to make my portion of the Government work and be effective for the Tax Payers. The Political Advocacy portion of my life began as a “bribe” now the reader looks at this and thinks an elected official took a bribe? OMG! The “bribe” was actually a dinner ticker biggest fundraising dinner the State Democratic Party runs at $100 per person. At this event is when the local Democratic Committee hit me up to be their Treasurer, being the person that usually doesn’t say no to anything I took this on and it’s given me an opportunity to see Democratic Politics from the inside.

You wonder how this all relates to the Presidential campaign? Well when the Clinton Campaign was looking to set up a regional campaign Committee, they went to one of my good friends JoAnn Fenton and asked her who should be on the Committee? JoAnn listed a grouping of people and I was one of the people included! So here I site on the Monadnock Region Campaign Committee for Hillary Clinton, a candidate that I supported in 2008 and proud to support today. So what does a member of this type of committee do? Well a lot of grunt work! Canvassing homes, phone banking – you know those annoying calls you get while you’re watching “Jeopardy or the Big Bang Theory” while you’re feeling annoyed remember these are dedicated volunteers who take time out of their personal lives to work for a candidate they really believe in! So please don’t be rude to them, thank them for the call but let them know you’re not interested.


There are times when I am not home and people are in my house launching canvasses, having meetings, we also feedback information to the campaign from the field. Do they listen to us? Probably not! For the field operation it’s an opportunity for volunteers to feel they have someone “connected” to offer suggestions or complaints back to the campaign. We also do some serious things for campaign beyond the grunt work. We also work to accomplish campaign goals and we work as parts of the local brain trusts that helps map out the strategies to meet these goals. The Clinton Campaign is taking advantage of the expertise and knowledge of local activist who have strong roots and connections within each of those communities. On a personal note I have had the opportunity to connect with so many new people. People right in my own neighborhood, that I have waived to as they have driven or walked passed my house. I have also had the opportunity to mentor some young activist who I see great promise in for the future. Ask me and I will tell you about the two exceptional young men from Cheshire County are going be either a US Senator and member of the US House of Representatives from New Hampshire in the next ten years.

So the downside of being involved in a campaign to this extent, you’re always finding left over literature on the counters, Hillary stickers on every suit jack and coat and on the bottom of every pair of shoes. The glove box of the car is full of Hillary brochures, stickers and commit cards.

So when you are home on a Sunday afternoon watching the football game or on a Monday night watching Jeopardy think of me and my associates out in the cold knocking on doors and working the phones, working really hard to get the candidate elected we believe in. If any of this sounds interesting join us for the NH Primary Fly-In on February 5-7 in Manchester NH.





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.

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.




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.