Oct 212014

New Dictionaryby Walter Boomsma, Program Director for Valley Grange.

Valley Grange is in the midst of “Dictionary Season” with a program that will included four school districts, a dozen classrooms and over 2oo third graders. Since this is a Grange that has never been bashful around the media, it wasn’t a surprise that the Bangor Daily News ran an article about the program in Dover Foxcroft District at SeDoMoCha. (You can read it online.)

While it’s not the first time something like this has happened, it’s still a pleasant surprise.I just finished a phone call with a retired educator from Downeast who saw the article and decided to research getting a program started for his local school. Bring on the dictionaries!

The article certainly  helps the Grange shine. “It’s education motives such as this that make SeDoMoCha Elementary School Principal Julie Kimball believe the Grange is a phenomenal source of information and influence for local students,” it reports. But the kids are the real beneficiaries and, if our program’s story has inspired or contributed to additional projects getting started, how can you not get excited?!

Last Friday we had the kids from Piscataquis Community Elementary School visit the Grange Hall to receive their dictionaries. As they climbed the stairs to the upstairs hall, one young scholar was overheard explaining to her friend, “Mr. and Mrs. Boomsma live here and they really like dictionaries!”

Thanks to the many people from the folks at the dictionary project to friends and neighbors who provide financial assistance… the teachers and staff who find time and energy to fit our annual program into busy school schedules… and to the kids who make us smile and give us hope.

Is it time for your Grange to consider a dictionary project? If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll try to help! We have a “Grange-based” program for presenting dictionaries that is outlined briefly in this year’s Communications Handbook 2014-15, and I’ll be happy to help you help the kids!

Oct 172014
By Vicki HuffVicki - Sash (2)

The 141st Annual Session of the Maine State Grange is in the books! Encourage your delegates to give reports as to which resolutions passed, how many candidates were present for the 5th and 6th degrees. Ask them questions. We are gearing up for the next session of the National Grange which should prove to be an interesting one. Once again Nancy Clark and I will be your delegates and we will either be getting ready, already there or back by the time you have your Grange meeting. I am sure there will be lots to report so prepare yourselves.

Brothers and Sisters this time of year tends to make us reflective and as you gather together with family and friends think about those who may be less fortunate than you. One of the greatest gifts we can give to another is a helping hand and a smile. It is time to “enjoy the fruits of our labors” and to share them with others.

May all your holidays be joyful. “Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine”

Together Each Accomplishes More

Oct 162014

To: Christine Hamp, LAS of the National Grange, Duane Hamp, Master of the WA State Grange, Officers, Delegates and Members of the Maine State Grange,

We have had many successes over the past year. Let’s congratulate Sister Christine Corliss for setting a goal of having 25% of the Granges in Maine turning in Community Service reports and then meeting her goal. This year, for the first time in a few years, we have money from National Grange to present to the Granges that will be announced as placing in the contest. There was a huge push from Christine and a few Deputies and State Officers to convince Grangers to submit these reports at the last minute. While presenting a notebook with pictures and a full explanation of the Community Service work you did over the past year is a great way to earn some extra dollars for your Grange there is a lot of satisfaction that comes from seeing that year’s worth of work all together in one place. Most of our Granges do Community Service without even thinking about it—that’s good, but it can mean we are missing some of the joy. I challenge you to go back to your Granges and not just report the number of hours but also find ways to celebrate and share your successes. For some reason we have this tendency, like the song some of us may have learned in Sunday School says, to “hide our light under a bushel”. Brother and Sisters we need to “Let it Shine, Let it Shine, Let it Shine”.candles

We owe special thanks to Enterprise Grange #48 and Riverside Grange #475 for taking the time to fill out and send in their Distinguished Grange applications to National. “Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” These two Granges will be recognized for this outstanding achievement at National Convention and I will be honored to accept your awards on your behalf. Would the members of Enterprise Grange #48 and Riverside Grange #475 please stand and be recognized. There are probably other Granges within our state that could have qualified for this honor and I hope that you will check out the form and see if your Grange meets the criteria for a Distinguished Grange award next year. “Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

I have some exciting news. We are so very close Continue reading »

Oct 152014
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Please note that we can no longer accept online registrations for State Convention. This does not mean you cannot attend! Registration will be possible on site; there will be people available to assist and answer your questions.

Please also be aware that many folks are already enroute to Skowhegan and this means limited access to the Internet and email for most. You may not get immediate answers to your email.

I will update the website with any information I receive at least once (and often twice) each day and will attempt to answer any questions I am emailed, but understand that while I do have access, I do not always have all the information! (I am attempting to make arrangements so I can be at Convention on Thursday, but will not be able to be there on Friday due to Dictionary Presentations.) Thanks for your patience and understanding…

Oct 132014
A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

October is about endings… the end of summer and fall. But endings are usually about beginnings as well. We’re at the beginning of winter, like it or not.

As this bulletin goes to press, many will be in Skowhegan hearing the results of another Grange year gone by… Contest winners will be announced and budgets will be reviewed and passed.

This is also the time of year when your website undergoes some major revision as old program books, contest information and entry forms are replaced with new. Sometimes the changes are very minor, but this year we have at least two brand new (and significantly different) contests announced so far.

The Communications Department (of one) is pleased to announce an entirely new “Clip ‘N Win” contest. For 2014-2015 we are revising the contest and making it about the quantity of one article written or initiated by a Granger, not simply clipping and counting versions of articles containing the word “Grange.” You’ll find details elsewhere in the Communications Handbook 2014-15 that will be available to delegates at State Conference and can be downloaded from the MSG website.

Remember also, if you do not have access to the Internet you may request copies of program books from State Headquarters. Please remember that mailing costs mount quickly and attempt to get your copy from your delegates first, then only request mailed copies of information you truly need.

I’m also pleased to note that my colleague Christine Corliss, Director of Community Service and FHH has announced a new contest encouraging FHH Chairs to team up with Lecturers and offer monthly FHH related programing. I’ve long felt that it’s past time to review the myriad of contests we conduct and create contests that are more focused and get higher participation. These two should bring some interesting results and entries!

You might be interested in some lessons learned from the former Clip ‘N Win Contest:

  • We have some Grangers with “eagle eyes” who can spot the word “Grange” in some unusual areas—like an advertisement by a business that included the Grange Hall as a landmark in their directions.
  • We have some overlapping of news articles. Entries from Granges located quite some distance from each other often included the same articles. (And a number that I had a written!)
  • We have a huge opportunity to improve our communication with the media. Most of the articles submitted were short meeting announcements clipped from community calendars.

When I do dictionary presentations, I often ask third graders what, if anything, they know about the Grange. I always remember one young fellow who said with great confidence, “It’s a bunch of people who like to eat and meet.” His perception is funny, somewhat accurate, but also disappointing, really.

One notebook submitted included nearly 40 obituaries of Grange members—in spite of the rule against including them. But the real tragedy is that notebook did not include one article mentioning a membership installation or published photos of new members.

How about a theme for this year of, “Let’s make some news and share it!”


Oct 102014
Mr. Boomsma making discoveries with Kendall, one of his many young friends.

Mr. Boomsma making discoveries with Kendall Kimball, one of his many young friends at Piscataquis Community Elementary School. (Kendall’s chosen career is to be a pop star when she grows up and she’s already proving to be a “media darling.”) Photo by J. Orton

Known to the kids in his area as “Mr. Boomsma,” Valley Grange Program Director and State Communications Director Walter Boomsma is the subject of a special article in the October Issue of Maine Seniors Magazine. Maine Seniors is a high quality magazine published right here in Maine and distributed throughout the state featuring “community icons” and “prime movers”—seniors who are making a difference in their communities and state.“Each Grange can choose its own projects, reflecting local needs and interests. That’s how the Valley Grange, whose area stretches from Monson to Milo, came to focus so strongly on children. And how Boomsma—who talks with his hands and quotes Socrates—built a life around it.

A digital copy of the article will be available on http://wboomsma.com and the entire issue will be accessible at http://meseniors.com before the month is over.The article features some of Valley Grange’s initiatives such as Words for Thirds, Bookworming, and the GrowME project while telling some of his favorite stories about working with kids. But it also makes clear the fact that Mr. Boomsma believes it’s not about programs. The programs he likes “are really just an excuse to do the real work.”

Written by Donna Halvorsen of Portland, an accompanying article expands and explains the role of the Grange—a Historic Tradition—in Maine. The print issue is now available on news stands around the state.

Oct 102014

Corliss (638x640)

By Christine Corliss, Community Service/FHH Director

Hello Everyone and Happy Fall!

Another year has passed and State Session is upon us.  The Community Service Books are ready and so is the paperwork for Officer of the Year again for next year.  We are implementing a new contest for Family, Health & Hearing this year which will also be attached with Community Service Packets for the upcoming year.   I will have packets available at State Session, as well as they will be available on the website.

It has been a refreshing experience this past year as well as an educational one and I hope all are ready and geared up for everything in the upcoming year.  Community Service and Family, Health & Hearing can be both fun and rewarding and I hope we on the Community Service Committee have encouraged all of you to get out there and show the world what we at Grange are proud to do.  If anyone needs any assistance with any projects big or small do not hesitate to contact me.  I will be more than happy to try to help.

Also, remember October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mental Illness Awareness Month, SIDS Awareness Month, Healthy Lung Month and Dwarfism Awareness Month just to name a few.  Contact one of the local chapters who work with these items and have a guest speaker come in.  Plan an activity bringing awareness to some of these items or one of them but remember to have fun.

Maine State Grange Community Service making a difference “ONE” project at a time!!!!!

Oct 102014
NelsonRobert and Agnes Nelson, Agriculture Directors

It doesn’t seem possible this year is over and the Maine State Grange Conference is here. We’ve had a very busy year. We got to 17 of the fairs over the state and saw many wonderful exhibits. There were so many exceptional Subordinate, Pomona and State Grange exhibits this year. So much work goes into these exhibits. We met a lot of wonderful people again this year.

We want to especially thank all of the wonderful people on the Agriculture Committee, all of the people who served as judges for the fair exhibits and people who helped with the Legislative Luncheon and the Ag in the Classroom Dinner. It made our year a success. We want to especially thank Sharon Morton and Jim Owens for all of their support and help when needed.

The Agriculture Committee works very hard to raise money for the Ag Scholarships Fund. We hope Granges will support this program during the year when requested.

We look forward to serving on this committee next year. We look forward to being invited to Granges for Agriculture Nights.

Oct 102014

by Laurie McBurnie, Junior DirectorMcBurnie

The 2014-2015 Junior Grange program has been sent to the Webmaster to post on the website. (Webmaster note: It can be found here.) Dates for the State Junior Grange meeting in May and Junior Camp are listed (subject to change if necessary).

Contests for the coming year are included. The National Junior Grange program has not yet been released so those details will be added as they become available. The National program also includes the merit badges (2014 badges are listed on the website).

Remember, children ages 5-14 can become Maine State Junior Grange members and work on all contests and merit badges with guidance from local subordinate members and parents. Contact Jr. Director Laurie McBurnie for more information.

Please contact Junior Director Laurie McBurnie, 563-5347 or LMCB293atgmaildotcom, with any questions or requests for Memorial flags and/or Grange flag holders, hand fans or Memorial bricks.

Junior Grange hand fans ($1, Baker’s dozen – $12), Grange Memorial Flags ($7) and a limited number of Grange Flag Holders ($30) are still available from Jr. Director Laurie McBurnie and Jr. Committee members Norma Meserve, Roberta Meserve and CJ Stinson-Roy. They will also be on sale at the Junior table at State Grange.

If you know of any youngsters who would like to be involved as junior members, please contact Jr. Director Laurie McBurnie  (lmcb293atgmaildotcom)  ,

The flyer for the Memorial Bricks, the National Junior Grange program and the National Junior Merit Badge programs are posted on the state Grange website.


Oct 062014

dictionaryprojIt’s Dictionary Season! This is a fun time of year for Valley Grangers as they get to fill many little hands that reach out for the Dictionary they provide as part of their “Words for Thirds” Dictionary Project.

This year the team will make their annual trek over to SAD 41 on Tuesday, October 15th, stopping at Milo Elementary first thing in the morning and Brownville Elementary closer to noon. The “road trip” includes third grade classroom visits talking about the Grange Staves representing farmers’ tools and the role of the Grange in getting R.F.D. started. “Roadies” are Master Jim Annis and Program Director Walter Boomsma.

Piscataquis Community Elementary School Third Graders from Guilford will celebrate their Dictionary Day with a field trip to the Grange Hall on Friday, October 17 at 12:15 pm where they are greeted by “Captain Battick” — a Civil War Navy Captain. Captain Battick explains a bit about the Navy’s role in the Civil War and teaches the Navy Salute. He is most often joined by “Miss Mary” in her pink day dress who explains that “you couldn’t show your ankles and wrists in those days–it was considered improper.” Boomsma facilitates the program which appeals to the youngster’s sense of responsibility for the dictionary they are receiving. “We also discuss ‘stewardship’ and how the dictionary is a tool like the farmer’s tools the Grange uses as staves during our meetings.”

SeDoMoCha Third Graders from Dover Foxcroft have a similar opportunity on Monday, October 27 when they arrive at the Valley Grange Hall at 9:00 AM for lessons and dictionaries. This is the largest group this year–over seventy third graders are expected! An added feature of every Dictionary Day Program started a few years ago is the inclusion of several sixth graders who received their dictionaries three years ago. Thee older kids explain to a fascinated audience how they have used their dictionaries. These older classmates often bring their tattered dictionaries that are not suffering from a lack of care; they are just well used.

New this year but not yet scheduled are Dictionary Days at Ridgeview Elementary School in Dexter and Harmony Elementary School in Harmony! A definite date has not been set yet, but the Grange promises they are coming! Look for Grangers with Dictionaries most likely in early November. With this addition, Valley Grange is now covering four districts, six schools and putting dictionaries in the hands of over 200 young scholars every year!

Parents of children who are homeschooled are encouraged to contact their local school for information about participating in “Dictionary Day” by attending the program or to receive a dictionary if attending isn’t possible.

Program Director Walter Boomsma says, “Our experience with the kids “re-convinces” us every year of the importance and power of this project. We always underestimate how excited the kids are going to be and how grateful.” According to The Dictionary Project website, “…Even for children with computer access, a dictionary provides benefits a computer cannot. Dictionaries are portable and can be used anywhere. A child has a sense of ownership of a book that encourages exploration. And only a dictionary can provide that delightful experience of looking up a word and getting sidetracked by all the other fascinating words on the same page.”

This program is made possible by the support of our communities and those individuals who purchase raffle tickets or make cash contributions. If you’d like to help Valley Grange empower these young scholars with their very own dictionary, you can send a donation to Valley Grange, c/o Secretary Mary Annis, 28 Orchard Road, Dover Foxcroft ME 04426.