Jul 242017

Porter Grange #569 got a well-deserved face lift this summer. The outside of the building was painted and a new porch light was added in memory of Dottie Locke who we lost last year. On Saturday, July 22, we had an open house with refreshments to celebrate the National Grange 150th birthday. Porter Grange was delighted to pass out four applications to interested visitors. They were in impressed with our Words for Thirds Program and our local School Scholarships.

Our Grange was able also to put up flags in Porter Village with special donations from Jana Mayotte and Gary Nickerson in memory of Francis Mills and Ron and Marie Nickerson respectively.

Porter Grange will be holding a Bean Supper, Friday, September 22 from 5:00 pm. until 6:30 pm. We have also scheduled a Free to Veterans and their families breakfast on November 11 at 7:00 am.

For more information on any event or just to say, “Hi!” contact portergrang569atgmaildotcom  (portergrang569atgmaildotcom)  

Porter Grange Hall Before

Porter Grange After!

Front Porch Light

Front porch plaque

Apr 242017

Lois McCarthy and Lisa Goucher (in back row) of Mill Stream Grange in Vienna visited the Mt. Vernon Elementary School on March 16 to present dictionaries to the third graders there as part of the national “Words for Thirds” program. Each student signed his or her own copy and played a word game to become familiar with the dictionary. Teacher Carolyn Watkins expressed much appreciation for the “wonderful presentation” and said that her kids were “over the top” excited to receive their own dictionary.

Apr 102017

Glenys Ryder, Community Service Chair
Danville Junction Grange # 65

Throughout the year, Danville Junction Grange carries out many community service projects.  However, none are more satisfying or enjoyable than the Words for Thirds program!  It is so much fun each year to enter classrooms, bursting with enthusiasm, as students anticipate receiving their new dictionaries!!!  Once they are distributed, the room is alive with excited conversation about the “longest word”, the planets, sign language, and much more that the students find in their dictionaries!  Notice the intent look on the students’ faces in the photo as they study them!!

This year we were able to distribute dictionaries to over three hundred third graders at three schools in the area.  We are already planning for next year!


Mar 242017

Lois McCarthy (shown) and Lisa Goucher visited Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon on March 17 to present dictionaries to the third-grade students there.
A word game was played and each student signed his or her own copy. This is the second year that Mill Stream has participated in the national “Words for Thirds” program as one of their community service projects.

Dec 152016


By Walter Boomsma

For several years now I’ve used our staves as part of our Valley Grange Dictionary Day visits—whether the kids visit us at the Grange Hall or we visit their classrooms. They have always seemed to enjoy learning about these “farmer’s tools” and often will mention them when they write thank you notes. Occasionally a student will accurately draw each of the four. When that happens, I confess to wondering if we Grangers can remember all four? I hope so because I also explain to these third graders why we use them in our meetings. Historically that explanation has been a general one. This year I decided to be a bit more specific and I turned to the officer installation ceremony for help.

“Your emblem is the Spud, an ancient implement used by Stewards in passing through the fields to eradicate weeds that may have escaped the notice of the laborers… Let it remind you of your duty as a faithful steward to remove all causes of dissension or strife, in the Grange and in order.” When I’ve explained to the kids that all Grangers see the spud as a reminder to keep the Grange free of weeds, they offer what some of the things are they as classmates, might want to eliminate for their classroom. Their answers often include “bullying” and “bad words.”

“Your emblem is the Pruning Hook. The spear, beaten into a pruning hook is emblematic of peace. May it always remind you of your duty to preserve peace in our order…” There’s a natural progression here. My dictionary day helpers know the staves must be in the “right” order before I began—not just because of tradition, but because it makes sense. When we eliminate bad things (dissension and strife or bullying and bad words) we begin building peace.

“I present you, the Lady Assistant Steward of your Grange with the Shepherd’s Crook, which symbolizes a sense of caring.” I will confess that my instruction to the children takes some editorial license, in part because we have fun with this “tool.” I’ll select a volunteer to be a sheep and demonstrate how the shepherd uses the crook “like a leash” to guide the sheep. The application is, therefore, that seeing the crook reminds us that we each can be a leader, guiding others in our efforts to remove “weeds” and “build peace.”

The kids love the owl; he’s almost everybody’s favorite stave. When I remove him from the stand, someone always shouts, “He’s cute!” (The one I use is wooden and quite realistic in appearance.) Upon receiving it, the Gatekeeper is told “I caution you to be vigilant and watchful” with a comparatively lengthy explanation of the dangers to be kept from our Order. Usually the kids can come up with why a farmer might like an owl to “scare away birds and mice.” In the Grange, the owl reminds us to see what’s around us, both to enjoy beauty but also to protect it by removing dissension…

I confess the first time I tried this it was unrehearsed and probably didn’t hang together as well as it could and now does. As a teacher, for the first time I saw these four staves as potential classroom management tools—even joking with one class that it’s too bad they don’t have a set like we do—or maybe a photo poster of them. (I can picture a kid going to a corner of the room, grabbing a spud, marching over to another kid and saying, “You used an inappropriate word! That’s not allowed!” I also confess that I now see the staves a bit different myself. These tools represent tools that we must use constantly to preserve our Order, an Order that strives to remove dissension and strife, build peace and caring, and develop vigilance and watchfulness.

“The Order of the Patrons of Husbandry is the only association whose teachings accompany its members in their daily pursuits. They form part of the farmer’s life. They do not call him from his work to put his mind upon any other subjects, but furnish recreation in his daily duties, and, by cheerful instruction, lighten and elevate his labor.”

While the literal staves may remain in the holders between meetings, what they represent should accompany us in our daily pursuits. I would encourage (uh oh, sounds like we’re going to get some homework!) each member to find or borrow a Grange Manual and read/study the installing officer’s opening address. That address describes some of the reasons we need those staves—not just for four people to hold and carry during the ritual but as a way of life.

Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual. The views and opinions expressed in “Exploring Traditions” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official doctrine and policy of the Grange.

Oct 312016

Third-graders from Piscataquis Community Elementary School weren’t the only ones at the Valley Grange Hall for Dictionary Day last Friday. Also present were Corporal Austin and Miss Mary (Civil War Reenactors), Grange Bookworms and Members, and Laura Smith, a reporter from FOX 22/ABC 7 in Bangor. Check on her report on Facebook.

This was Valley Grange’s fifteenth year presenting dictionaries to area students, bringing the total distributed to over 1,800. Students who make a field trip to the Grange Hall learn about the Civil War, the early days of the Grange, and the excitement of having their own personal dictionary. Another group of approximately 65 students will be visiting the hall soon and the “Dictionary Team” will be traveling to three schools to complete the program.

Additional information about the Dictionary Program can be found at the Dictionary Project Website.

Sep 232016

Dictionary Project Logo

by Walter Boomsma, based on Dictionary Project Newsletter

Here’s an interesting idea… a fundraiser sponsored by the River Region Republican Women was recently held at the Jefferson Orleans South with 11 celebrity politicians participating in the competition. The proceeds will be used to buy English and Spanish dictionaries for third-grade students in Jefferson, St. Charles and St. John parishes. You really have to read the article, but a short description is that they created a “cook off” (sounds like a natural for a Grange!) with attendees acting as “voters” to determine the top dishes.

Read the whole story.

An interesting twist on this… A Pomona Grange sponsors a “cook off” between member Granges!

Jun 132016


By Walter Boomsma

What does the Grange stand for? Or perhaps a more interesting question would be “What do people think the Grange stands for?”

Of course we can refer to our Declaration of Principles for an answer. While this is a noble task (and might be the basis for a lecturer’s program), we’ll get an official but somewhat conceptual understanding. I wanted something more basic and down to earth. Therefore, I decided to step outside the Grange Circle.

One perception I encountered seemed simplistic and to the point. It suggested that the Grange is “a fraternal organization… that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture.” There’s a lot to like in that definition.

As with any organization that has a long history, there’s the opportunity for some blending of the past and present. Another description I encountered focused more on the historical outlook suggesting the Grange was founded “to advance methods of agriculture, as well as to promote the social and economic needs of farmers.”

Turning again to an official source, the preamble to the National Grange Constitution explains, “The ultimate object of this organization is for mutual instruction and protection, to lighten labor by diffusing a knowledge of its aims and purposes, to expand the mind by tracing the beautiful laws the Great Creator has established in the Universe, and to enlarge our views of creative wisdom and power.”

I’ll never forget one call I got from a client during my consulting career. He’d been to a conference over the weekend on the topic of creating organizational excellence. He called me Monday morning and said, “I’m really fired up and motivated. I want to make this organization into something great. But I’m sitting here at my desk and I don’t know what to do or where to start!”

So the pressing question might be how we take these somewhat lofty purposes and give them meaning in our daily lives. If we can’t translate those purposes into practice, we may find ourselves no longer relevant. It’s practice that gives purpose meaning.

To use an agricultural metaphor, we also have to be careful that we aren’t getting the cart ahead of the horse. In my brief research I did not encounter anything suggesting that the Grange stands for membership growth. I’m not, certainly, saying membership growth is not important. But it’s a cart that should naturally follow purpose. There are a few lines in the Declaration of Purposes that do include a subtle reference to membership growth.

“We propose meeting together, talking together, working together, and in general, acting together for our mutual protection and advancement. We shall constantly strive to secure harmony, good will, and brotherhood, and to make our Order perpetual. We shall earnestly endeavor to suppress personal, local, sectional, and national prejudices, all unhealthy rivalry and all selfish ambition. Faithful adherence to these principles will insure our mental, moral, social and material advancement.”

If we do those things outlined (meeting together, working together…), we “make our Order perpetual” by attracting like-minded and like-purposed folks.

If we did have a clearly defined purpose–one that can have different emphasis locally; that’s one of the beauties of a grassroots organization–and we were working within those principles… could we see that last sentence in declaration of principles being rewritten to read, “Faithful adherence to these principles will insure our mental, moral, social and material advancement as well as membership growth.”

Groucho Marx is often credited with saying he wouldn’t join an organization that would have him as a member. It’s a funny thought but it makes the point that one factor in people’s choices around affiliation and joining is about shared values. The early days of the Grange were quite heady and, most would agree, the explosive growth of the Grange was phenomenal. Certainly part of it was due to the passion of the founders and early leaders. But ultimately, people joined because of common purpose and values.  And what Grangers did in practice reflected those values. They looked at  what the Grange was trying to do and said, “Hey, I want to be part of that because I believe in it!”

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual. The views and opinions expressed in “Exploring Traditions” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official doctrine and policy of the Grange.

Jun 122016

National Grange Community Service Coordinator

communityserviceatnationalgrangedotorg  (communityserviceatnationalgrangedotorg)  

People volunteering at clothing drive

People volunteering at clothing drive

Why?  Why do we as Grangers do the community service projects in our communities? Why have we as an organization been involved with helping our communities from our inception as an organization almost 150 years ago?  These are questions we often hear.

The easy answer is “because we have always done it that way.” This is the one time that phrase works.  At the end of every Grange meeting, we are reminded to “help the fatherless and the widows,” which shows the importance our founders saw in giving back to those who need help.  It is also one of our core values, Charity, which we are reminded of at our meetings and in our degree work.


We wish to congratulate the following Granges who were Community Service report winners at the 2015 National Grange session: 1st Little Compton #32 (RI), 2nd Friday Harbor #225 (WA), 3rd Montague #140 (NJ) and 4th Volunteer #1250(TN).  The Firefighter of the Year is Arthur Jette (MT) and the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year is James Miclon (ME).   These two awards will be ongoing and we have added Teacher of the Year to the program.  Each State Grange can nominate one honoree for each category. We look forward to receiving the nominee forms from each state.


Here are some highlighted community service projects that Granges do throughout the year. We know this does not even scratch the surface of the amazing things our Grangers do.

Dictionary Project– This is probably the closest we have to a national project as Granges across the country have presented dictionaries to third graders for several years.  In fact Granges are close to giving away the 1 millionth dictionary as part of the project which to me is an amazing number.  Granges also have given large dictionaries to school libraries, Spanish language dictionaries and dictionaries for blind students.

Food Banks– Many Granges work with their local food banks in various ways.  Elizabethtown Grange (PA)works with the food bank with a focus outside of the holiday season providing assistance when times are tough anytime of the year.  This is personal to this Grange as they found out members of their Grange were helped by the food bank during a tough economic time for the family.  Granges offer their halls to be used as food distribution sites in more remote areas of the country.  Sallal Grange (WA) collects donations of dairy products (no milk or eggs) each month at a local grocery store to give to the local food bank.  As they say it is a way to show the Grange is alive and active in the community.

Alternative uses for Grange Halls Arlington Grange (NH) – Working with the local social service agency to use the hall to meet with clients who have opiate addiction, establish a playgroup for children of mothers who have addiction issues so the children have a safe nurturing atmosphere while the mothers are receiving counseling.  They also allow a non-profit karate school for youth to use the hall as an outreach in the area.  Jim Tetreault said the electric bill has gone from $40 a month to $80 and he couldn’t be happier.  Montague Grange (NJ)– sponsors a community garden on their property, which has been expanded each year due to the community response.

Jun 072016


by Marilyn Stinson, Community Service Coordinator for Enterprise Grange

Shown here is William, a member of Maine State Junior Grange #17, presenting a dictionary to Kaleb, a third grader of Marcia Buker School in Richmond. William is connected with Enterprise Grange #48 which has participated in the ‘Words for Thirds’ Program since 2002. Junior Grange is for 5 – 14 year old boys and girls to learn about the world around them and earn badges and have healthy, wholesome fun.

Grange is an organization which began in 1867 to help the American farmers after the Civil War. Officially known as ‘Patrons of Husbandry,’ Grange is still active in communities – both rural and urban – more for community service than agriculture. Enterprise Grange #48 is delighted to participate in the project and give Richmond’s children their own dictionaries to keep and use throughout their school careers and beyond. Through the tireless efforts of the Grange’s network of more than 200,000 volunteers, America’s oldest rural and agriculture organization has presented third grade students across the nation with more than 100,000 dictionaries.

Our aim is to aid third graders to leave at the end of the year as good writers, active readers, and creative thinkers. We checked with one of the fourth grade teachers about whether or not to continue the program or try to do something electronic as some Granges are doing. They appreciate the dictionaries that all the kids can use, no matter their financial situation in their homes. They ARE used! “Nothing less than our best is quite good enough for the Grange,” is a Grange expression and Enterprise #48 is delighted to give your children tools to do their best.