First off you’re probably wondering what a “Grange” is. Well according to the website, it is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan, fraternal organization that advocates for Rural America and agriculture”. Don’t let the word “fraternal” scare you off ladies, the Grange has always had full equal voting rights for all members, 50 years before the Women’s Suffrage movement. Over the past few days I’ve been in touch with the President of the Montana Grange, Scott Nicholson, to find out more about the organization and what it can do for our community.
The Grange’s Declaration of Purpose focuses on values, business relationships, non-partisan cooperation, and equality, all things that are valuable to our community. The Grange’s agrarian roots should appeal to Missoulians, who come out en masse to support local producers at farmers markets. We have an exciting opportunity to learn about the history, structure, and benefits coming up next Thursday. Dr. Michael Martin, the National Grange Membership Director will be in town and will be speaking to us next Thursday, 23 APR, time and place TBD (I’ll post an event on Facebook). I encourage everyone in our community that is interested to attend, as this may be the starting point for the formation of Missoula’s own Grange.
Networking and building relationships is important to the success of a community, and fraternal organizations have always been a part of that process. I was a member of a few growing up, and relished the opportunities to learn about leadership and charity from the organization, as well as making friends with other members. The Missoula small farm community is strong and growing, and I think we could all benefit from an organization that would allow us to network and share resources, focus on educating each others about agriculture, and outreach to our community through charitable works and community events. An issue with agriculture in general is that it is an aging population; the average farmer these days is at retirement age and they aren’t being replaced fast enough, leaving family farms to be subdivided and sold off, and our communities dependent on trucking food across the country. We have a vibrant, young, hard-working community, and I would love to bring a Grange chapter to Missoula to promote small local ag-focused businesses and help us to all be more successful, together.
Below you’ll find a bio of Dr. Martin from the Grange website. If you’re interested in attending please drop us a line on the Primrose Station website (www.primrosestation.com), or on the Facebook page. We’d love to get as many ag community stakeholders together as possible to welcome Dr. Martin and learn about the Grange. If you know someone who may be interested please send them our way!
Dr. Martin’s Bio:
Michael J. Martin, Ph.D., is the Membership/Leadership Development Director for the National Grange. Martin, a native of Cummington, Mass., has been an active Grange member for over three decades. Martin said he is looking forward to giving back to the organization that provided leadership experiences for him as the Master of local subordinate and Pomona Granges in Massachusetts. He also served as Membership Director and state officer of the Massachusetts State Grange. As a young adult, Martin served on the National Grange Youth Team as National Grange Youth Ambassador. ”The leadership skills learned in the Grange are exemplified in community leaders across rural America,” Martin said. He is looking forward to working with Grange leaders across the nation. ”The future of our country rests on the strength of our agricultural and rural communities,” Martin said. Prior to joining the National Grange staff, Martin was a Cooperative Extension professional for 25 years and most recently served as executive director of the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund where he spearheaded the initiative to raise funds to support the 4-H youth development program in North Carolina. Martin has experience as a 4-H youth development agent in Massachusetts, Vermont and Pennsylvania. He was an International 4-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) Representative to Costa Rica, and also worked to establish and strengthen the 4-H youth development programs in the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Armenia. Martin holds a B.A. from Oberlin College, and M.Ed. from Cambridge College. He earned a Ph.D. in Workforce Education and Development from the College of Education at Penn State University. Martin and his wife Wendy reside in south central Pennsylvania. Michael is a member of Valley Grange in Pa.
Our presentation will mostly about the Grange, a little history, some about the structure with a focus on the potential advantages and benefits of being a member of the Grange.