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Legislative Fly-In Gives Grange Youth Opportunity to Voice Concerns

Originally Published in Good Day! Magazine

Published: May 2017

With April came the Legislative Fly-In for the National Grange. Grangers came from all over the country for the event, which took place April 23-26, 2017. This event brought 17 National Grange Fly-In participants from ten states to meet with 29 congressional offices on Capitol Hill. 

Events included speeches from people such as Susan Diegelman, the Director of Public Affairs for AT&T, Senior Executive for Government Affairs for TracFone Mark Rubin and Thair Phillips, the President of RetireSafe. Participants also attended a meeting with Jay Schwarz, an advisor to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at FCC Headquarters, as well as meetings with members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill. 

National Grange President Betsy Hunter believes the Fly-In is an important part of keeping civic participation alive in the Grange. 

“Civic participation has been an important part of the Grange since our beginning,” Huber said. “The Fly-in gives our members the opportunity to come to our nation’s Capital and speak face- to-face with our legislators, expressing their personal opinions and Grange policy with the backing of thousands of other Grangers. This is grassroots democracy at its most basic! The National Grange staff makes it easy to do, setting up appointments and providing information on the top issues being discussed right now in Washington.” 

The Fly-In allows for Grangers of all ages to get an up close and personal look at the way our government runs. National Grange Executive Committee member Leroy Watson described that “few other organizations give grassroots volunteers of all ages similar chances to learn about the political process firsthand.” 

The attendees also saw the Fly-In as an important opportunity to get involved. “It gives Grangers a voice in our national government and the ability to make their voice heard,” Ashley Wyatt of Oliver Hudson Kelley Grange #834 in Minnesota said.

The attendees appreciated the opportunity to make an impact on their government and voice their concerns to their government officials. 

Alan Caldwell, Master of Florissant Grange #420 in Colorado stated that “representing the Grange as positive and professional” was one of the things he looked forward to most in the event. 

National Junior Grange Director Samantha Wilkins attended the event with her husband and son to see how she could help further the Junior program through information gained during the Fly-In. 

“I wanted to experience the Fly-In first hand to see how we, on the National level, could develop a Junior Grange program for the Fly-In,” Wilkins said. 

Issues discussed with Congressional offices included the Farm bill, Healthcare, Immigration Reform, Infrastructure, Tax reform, Trade and Rural broadband and telecommunications as well as any items of individual interest the Grangers may have had. 

National Grange Male Youth Ambassador Asa Houchin was in attendance and said that the Fly-In is important to the Grange because “it gives you a chance to be heard.” 

Attendees also got a firsthand look at how the Fly-In is larger than just the Grange and impacts more people, not only Grange members. 

Sue Roy of Blendon Grange #708 in Ohio states that she was surprised to learn that “our concerns are the concerns of many people, not only Grange members.” 

Moving forward, The National Grange hopes to keep instilling public policy values in it's younger members.

“The National Grange began its 150-year legacy with advocacy on behalf of farmers, ranchers and other rural residents. The Grangers who came to Washington for the Fly-In are keeping that legacy alive," said National Grange Legislative Director Burton Eller.

copyright 2020 Kimberly Stefanick

designed & created by Kimberly Stefanick

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