Mar 082017

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

by Rick Grotton
Maine State Grange Master

Our National Master, Betsy Huber, will be visiting Maine April 5, 2017, through April 8, 2017. She will be attending our Legislative Luncheon on April 5 and wishes to meet with as many Maine Grangers as possible during her visit to answer questions and listen to your ideas. We will be attending Grange meetings on Thursday and Friday (April 6 and 7). Please come to State Headquarters at 146 State Street in Augusta on Saturday, April 8 to visit. She will be attending the Junior sponsored contests that day beginning at 11:00 a.m. for the Public Speaking and Alphabet Signing (Juniors only) followed by the Assistant and Lady Assistant contest (for all Grangers). This will be a perfect opportunity to come support our Junior Program and to meet our first woman National Master! She has some great ideas and has been very busy but she is trying to visit all Grange states. If you want to come down on Thursday or Friday during the day to visit please let me know ahead of time. Let’s be Doers and show our National Master how proud we are as Grangers!

Dec 222016

By Walter Boomsma, MSG Communications Director

Trisha Smith is a Home Horticulture Aide for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Piscataquis County. One of her duties is to publish the Central Maine Gardening E-Newsletter. She recently contacted me noting, “One of the sections we’d like to include is a list of organizations and clubs that may interest gardeners in Piscataquis, Penobscot, and Somerset counties… What is the best way to direct folks to a Grange nearby?”

Since listing Grange contact information is currently not possible using the MSG website, Trish and I have agreed to a general statement with an invitation to visit the site and contact me if someone is looking for a local Grange in their area. (I am always willing to help an individual or organization locate a Grange, but it is done on a “case by case” basis.) I also suggested that we invite local Granges in those three counties to submit contact information for the list they will publish in the newsletter. If you’d like to be listed as “an organization of interest to gardeners” send your listing to Trisha Smith trishadotsmith1atmainedotedu  (trishadotsmith1atmainedotedu)  . Here’s an example of how you might word your listing:

Valley Grange is located at 172 Guilford Center Road in Guilford. For additional information about meeting times and programs, contact Jim Annis (564-0820) or Walter Boomsma (343-1842 or grangeatboomsmaonlinedotcom  (grangeatboomsmaonlinedotcom)  ). 

The key is to keep your listing complete but also brief… do not include complex meeting schedules, but you might add a short sentence about why your Grange might be of interest to gardeners and ag-minded folks. If you’d like help crafting your listing, let me know!

Dec 202016

By Kim Stefanick
National Grange Intern

Grange Radio has returned to the web-airwaves with a face-lift.

In November, just before the National Convention, the station re-launched with new voices and music. A greater diversity of music and programming is expected after the new year.

Found online at, the station Grangers now have a place where they can go to listen to family and farmer-friendly music while staying up to date on the latest Grange news and events. The station also has an active Facebook page at www.

The goal of the station is not only to serve the Grange community but to be used as a way to reach potential members and diversify the Grange’s audience, National Grange Communications Director Amanda Leigh Brozana said.

Brozana, who has been tasked with heading the project said, “It’s important for us to make sure we are communicating with folks outside our membership. We cannot expect to draw new members unless they know we are lively and fun. We hope Grange Radio becomes a touch point in their lives.”

During the holiday season, you’ll hear the first episodes of a weekly hour of fun music and talk by Connecticut State Grange’s Bob Charbonneau. The show will continue in the new year. Charbonneau also produced a short radio play, Santa’s New Suit that will air twice a day starting Dec. 15 through Christmas. Be sure to tune in!

You can add your voice to Grange Radio by recording a short “bumper” or becoming a contributor. To learn more, go to the website.

This article is reprinted from the December Issue of The Patrons Chain.

Dec 192016

By Loretta Washington
Sales, Benefits & Programs Director

In our 150th Anniversary celebration year, it is so important to promote the Grange and be part of our next member gain!

For only $12 plus shipping, you can receive the new Grange Promotion kit (COM 117) with everything you need to grow your Grange. Brochures, comic book, and rip cards are all part of this affordably priced kit.

Ask your community what the Grange means to them, invite them to be DO·ers with you and the other Grange members across the nation, and provide them the printed material to apply for membership.

Kit comes with:

  • 25 Declaration of Purpose brochures
  • 15 Junior brochures
  • 10 Youth brochures
  • 25 Adult Members brochures
  • 10 E member brochures
  • 25 Recruiting brochures
  • 25 Rip Card
  • 25 A Grange Story Comic book

All for the price of $12.00 plus shipping.

This article is reprinted from the December 2016 issue of The Patrons Chain… since there are no ordering instructions, I’d suggest you contact Loretta via email: salesatnationalgrangedotorg  (salesatnationalgrangedotorg)  .

Follow up… another email from National Grange provides this link for ordering.

Nov 252016

HERNDON, VA – During the open day of the 150th Annual National Grange session, breakfast speaker Rep. Glenn (GT) Thompson (PA-5) told the audience that today in a nation divided, the Grange is more relevant than ever.

“Given what we’re experiencing right now, after the election that we just completed, the National Grange is as relevant today as what it was 150 years ago,” Thompson said to the about 140 attendees.

Thompson noted the Grange’s role in reconciliation between individuals of the nation in its early years, founding just after the Civil War.

“Just like the founding of this organization, your timing is such that it is time for healing in our land and I think the Grange can be a very big part of that.”

Thompson spoke to the oldest agricultural organization in the nation about some priorities of the next Farm Bill, for which work has already begun, but focused greatly on the complex relationship between world trade, politics, and agriculture.

While he began with a look at the current struggle of dairy farmers due to increasing milk competition in our trade markets because of Russia’s ban of European Union products, he quickly discussed the intersection of national security and agriculture.

“If you don’t think that agriculture is a complicated issue, well it can get caught up in the geopolitics of our time,” Thompson said. “Without food security and energy security you have infant mortality, you have illiteracy … you have war, you have violence.”

“For our country to ever be at a point to be dependent on another country for our food, is completely unacceptable,” Thompson said.

For legislators, he said the priority must be to “make sure we are doing the right thing by those who dedicate their lives to feeding us, providing the fiber for our cloths, the wood materials that build our homes and they provide us energy because so much of America’s energy comes off of our rural land.”

“The fact is without a robust rural America, people in the cities will wake up in the cold, in the dark and hungry, and so we have really a moral obligation to make sure we do our best to fulfill the focus and mission of the National Grange,” Thompson said.

Aug 312016
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

The basic information about the 143rd Annual Convention is now posted and available on the website. So far we have information (and a reservation form) regarding the annual banquet, area hotel list, and the schedule:

You can also find these any time by visiting the website’s conference page.

We’ll soon be adding “frequently asked questions” (and answers!)–if you have a question, submit it by email  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  . Also, within the next few days, we’ll have a system set up so non-delegates will be able to register online. (Delegates must be registered by the Subordinate or Pomona Grange Secretary.)

We’ll also be adding information as it becomes available! Many state contest deadlines are approaching–check program books and make sure to submit your entries. Also, officers and directors are reminded that deadlines are fast approaching for annual reports and program books.

Hope to see many of you in Skowhegan!

Aug 022016

Newsby Heather Retberg, Master of Halcyon Grange

Just wanted to share a recent headline and story with you about our recent budding relationship with the Broad River Baptist Association which came north and helped to begin re-painting the Halcyon Grange.

I remember how often in former State Master Huff’s column she would exhort us to “shine, shine, shine.”  In that spirit, I want to share this most recent story with you from our local paper, The Weekly Packet.

We’ve been working hard to create a community fellowship around farmers and farms down here and it finally seems to be “taking.”  So few have been shouldering the work for quite a while and now there are more to join the ranks at Halcyon because of our renewed, old-time dedication to small-scale, direct marketing farmers raising food without the middlemen or the mega-corporations.  We hope that our return to these roots of the Grange will continue to resonate long into the future and more will come to see the relevance of protecting and growing farms as a building block for strong communities into the future.

All of the folks mentioned in this article are new members to Halcyon having joined within the last year.  They’ve jumped right in to fill needs where they see them and help us further our goals of community resilience and strong advocacy for farmers.

Webmaster’s note: Check out the article and gallery of photos–the Grange Hall is starting to really shine as well as the Grange itself! Halcyon membership has risen nearly 25 percent since 2012, to 55 full members.

Jul 142016

by Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

I have a reporter with an interest in the Grange who will be travelling to and visiting the Presque Isle are during the week beginning August 7th. If your Grange has “something” going on that week (supper, program, meeting) and you are within a reasonable distance of Presque Isle, please let me know–he may want to attend!

In case you haven’t noticed, we now have a  Guide to Open Meetings published in the Communications Section of the Program Books and Information Page.

Jul 102016

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

It’s time for another “potpourri” of communications tips and information! I’m tempted to begin by saying, “The people of Maine are interested in us! Are we available?”

One of the calls I received this month was from a reporter frantically trying to reach a local Grange so he could take photographs for a story he was working on. We actually ended up on the phone for some time as he had many general questions about the Grange and clearly was interested in making some additional contacts.

Another call was from a radio show host. He wanted to record an interview for his show and when I asked “When?” his reply was “Right now!” Fortunately, my schedule permitted it and we had a nice visit. He asked some hard questions—he’d done his research on the Maine State Grange website and conducted a well-prepared interview.

Both of these incidents demonstrate several important truths. The first is that media opportunities are often spontaneous and fleeting. Very often we only get one chance to respond. A local reporter I work with emailed me asking for a “sound bite” regarding some local Grange news. Since I was traveling on vacation, I didn’t answer until late the next day. He thanked me for the reply but said he’d already finished and submitted the story in order to make a deadline. The good news is he’s planning a follow-up story so there will be another chance. The news business is fast-paced. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up!

A second truth is that information must be readily available for media representatives. Most often we are not the victims of “investigative reporting” that includes hard-driving questions. We usually get “softball questions”—questions that are intentionally easy to answer. In the Media Relations Workshop I teach, we brainstorm what sort of questions we might anticipate from a reporter covering a story. When a newsworthy event is planned, it can make sense to have a “press kit” available. (You can find examples in the Communications Handbook—available for downloading from the MSG website.)

But having information available can be even more basic than that. One reason I nag people to include a name and phone number when submitting events is the website often gets scanned by the media. If an event catches a reporter’s eye, he or she will want a straight-forward way to get more information. Make it easy!

If you do receive a media inquiry, please consider referring the reporter to me for additional information, particularly if he or she is interested in general background information or the story is not specific to a local Grange. It is discouraging to get a call from a reporter who is having difficulty getting someone to return his call or she has spent a lot of time trying to figure out who to contact. While I am obviously a volunteer and not working full-time for the Grange, I do try to answer email and return phone calls promptly. More importantly, I can “speak the language of the press” and often make the reporter’s job easier—I believe that’s an important aspect of my role as communications director. Rest assured, if the reporter is interested in your Grange or your Grange event, you will get the referral.

Turning to internal communication, I recently received a question regarding the proper communication to use at “open” meetings. This was actually addressed by National Grange in the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual. It’s called an “Alternative Guide to Opening and Closing.”  Since most Granges are using the older hardcover manuals and do not have access to it, I’ve developed a short guide to what we’ve come to call “open meetings.” It is available for download from the website on the Program Books and Information Page in the Communications section. Those without computer access may certainly request a copy be snail-mailed. The primary difference is the omission of “taking up the word.”

And, at the risk of blatant self-promotion, it was particularly rewarding to learn recently that at least one lecturer has created a series of programs based on the “Exploring Traditions” column! I enjoy hearing that the information and resources I provide are useful. Keep those cards and letters coming in!


 “Let’s make some news, take some photos of it, and share it!”

Jul 092016

podcasting_400_clr_7261By Walter Boomsma, 
Communications Director

In a fun and interesting series of coincidences that started with a sign in front of a Grange Hall advertising a bean supper, I recently had the opportunity to visit with Richard S. Kazimer of Ronin Media. When he asked about doing an interview, I asked “When?” His answer was “Right now!” It’s a good thing it wasn’t television!  The program aired on Friday on 89.7 WMHB-FM so you probably missed it. But Richard was also gracious and provided an MP3 file for the website (that’s how he was able to contact me), so you can hear it by clicking on this little arrow to the left. Don’t forget to turn up the volume! (Click on the little speaker to the right and make sure your computer’s volume is turned on.

(If you have received this via email as a site subscriber it may be necessary to visit the site to listen.)