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Chapter 12
What the Grange Stands for in Personal Growth

True now, as it was 100 years ago, though we have more facilities today for education, for communication, for study, for travel, is the contribution the Grange makes to the personal growth of its members-men, women, boys, girls.

Right from the beginning, the Founders directed attention to the need for developing the Grange as an educational force. As a matter of fact, one of the original purposes was to "advance the cause o f education among ourselves and for our children by all dust means within our power."

How the Grange Helps the Individual

That the Grange helps the individual to grow in knowledge, ability, confidence, and leadership is widely known. For example, quoting a State Master:

So many of our best thinkers . . . the most progressive people in the community . . . are utterly incapable of expressing themselves in public on any question, though vitally interested in it, or are lost when presiding at a meeting. Those who actually become active find that the Grange is a training school for these matters, and every Lecturer should be on the job, not neglecting one single opportunity to train the members along these lines.

A young married couple said:
The Grange has given us many responsibilities and opportunities to advance in leadership. Just being a part of a committee gives one the chance to help make important decisions along with others that will give us practice in making decisions in our own lives. It has offered many opportunities to get up in front of groups and conduct meetings, talk, or even present programs. Many important happenings in our lives have been brought about by meeting Grangers who have given us advice and opportunities to better ourselves.
Early in Grange history, and quite true today in many parts of the country, is the fact that the Grange may be described as a "college" or "university" or "high school" for the grownups who did not have an opportunity as youths or children to attend such an educational institution.

Participation in Grange affairs, such as the give-and-take of discussion and debate in the forum for considering important, timely legislation and Grange policies and programs, has helped thousands of Grangers to grow and to develop latent powers. Through such participation, members acquire the ability to think, to speak, and to express their convictions. As a result, lives have become richer, fuller, more productive, more cultivated-often exalted.

The respect and high regard of fellow Grangers and other citizens in the community have surrounded these Grange members. Many have reached high positions of service and prestige in the Grange, in their community, state, nation, and the world. Grange activities and ever-changing emphasis on community, national, and international needs and their solution or attainment, will continue to provide tremendous opportunities to young and old for personal growth. Can there be a finer tribute to this objective than a recent comment by a young Grange member:

My life has been fuller; I have gained a greater sense of responsibility. I am able to talk before a group with more ease; and I have gained the friendship of many wonderful people.

The Junior Grange

The experience of belonging and participating can begin at age 5 in the junior Grange. This unique organization, with its own special ritual and appropriate procedural outline for meetings, has been a regular activity of Subordinate Granges since the first juvenile Grange organizations were set up on a trial basis in a few states, and finally approved in the 1888 National Grange session. After studying the Texas Juvenile Grange Ritual, the Grange, in November -1890, adopted for all of the country a revised juvenile ritual that has stood the test of the years since and now is not only greatly influencing the 5-to-14 year olds to become better men and women but is giving them an organization "handle" to provide recreation, fun, and participation in many special community activities.

Junior Grange rules provide that membership terminates at age 14, the age at which that boy or girl becomes eligible to be a regular Subordinate Grange member and begin his degree work as a young adult. There is a provision, however, that junior members who have become junior Grangers at an early age may continue to be active until age 16, when they become members of the Subordinate Grange.

Thus the concept of the Founders is emphasized that while the 5-16 year olds have their own junior organization, from age 16 up they become participants in all adult Grange activities and carry on the early tradition that the Grange is truly a family organization. The sharing of experiences among all the age groups from 16 up in the Grange has been one of the factors that has held families together in rural areas. Today, much more attention must be given to this all over America to offset the fragmentation that divides families and which is now so apparent in our urban and, in some cases, suburban society.

With urban conditions in many places often breeding delinquency, trouble, frustration, and waste of opportunity, the Grange through its self-development activities is proving to be a "savior" of youth.

This statement by a Grange leader emphasizes the continuing interest in youth development:

The Grange has been of incalculable value to the rural youth of America. It has been a teacher, a developer, a guiding force and a stimulating power. Here boys and girls have taken part in programs, in debates, in meetings with their parents and their elders. Here they have learned to do by doing. Here they have developed latent talents and have exercised their abilities; and here they have found that great thrill of "a chance to achieve" and to do things helpful and worthwhile. Many of the nation's leaders of today received valuable early training in the Grange a quarter of a century or more ago.

The greatest opportunity that the Grange offers young people is in its educational, fraternal and ritualistic work. Young people's degree teams, plays, choruses, orchestras, etc., have given ability and poise. The Grange Lecturer's Program has carried into practical life lessons begun in school and classroom. Here young people have been elected to office and have served their community and their state.

While the Grange has been of great value to young people, youth has equally blessed the Grange. They have brought vigor, enthusiasm, pep, energy, life and beauty into Grange meetings. They have helped to tie the family together and to make the Grange live and serve. More than one dormant and decadent Grange has been revived by the enthusiasm of youth.

Just as the Grange is not a youth movement, so it is not an old people's organization, but rather the proper utilization of all the factors found in the well-rounded farm home and farm community. While the Grange has blessed and brightened the life and the future of farm boys and girls, from the very beginning, rural young people have helped and have improved the Grange.

One of the mightiest armies in America today is that of our youth. This young army can be an irresistible power for good if properly guided and directed, and the Grange offers peculiar advantages for usefulness and service.

We have countless special educational youth movements, organizations that will live and continually leave an indelible stamp for good on the Republic; besides various types of clubs and religious youth activities; but most of these mighty armies lead our boys and girls to the door of opportunity and leave them there, except the Grange. It offers full membership, with equal voice and vote, to our young people while they are still young, and then extends a fraternal handclasp for the rest of their lives.

As long as the Grange has a continuing stream of boys and farm girls pausing before its altar for obligation and instruction, and as long as it holds these boys and girls through their mature years of life, it will never die, but will continue to serve and bless mankind.

What Youths Themselves Say About Grange Activities

No better proof of the worthiness and acceptance of the Grange Youth Program can be found than in the simply-stated, unrehearsed, deep-down feelings of Grange youth as they express it in reports, entry forms in contests, such as the Travel Scholarship, and other activities requiring a speech or written comment. Here are some examples of what Grange membership means:

The Grange is a way of life to me. We live a long way from the school I attend and I ride the school bus over 60 miles a day. Consequently, it is impossible for me to attend very many of the football, basketball, or other games. We live in the community where the Grange is located, so most of my outside activities are Grange centered. My lessons in singing at school have prepared me for vocal solos at Grange and the course in interpretive reading has helped me to be on the Lecturer's program whenever I am asked. In turn, by being on Grange programs 1 have learned to think and speak on my feet so that 1 can be in school plays and give readings in contests without being so self-conscious. I have been awarded a I in district and a II+ in state contests in plays and a II in our league on interpretive reading. I feel that the Grange helped me in this because it was there I first learned to face an audience.

We hear so much of the lack of understanding between the "oldsters" and "youngsters" today but the Grange seems to bridge this gap by all of us working and playing together regardless of age. Also, in studying the history of the Grange, I have become very proud of the prominent part that rural people and the Grange have played in the growth of our America.

There are literally thousands of reports of how youths have improved their abilities, have "grown" in understanding and in appreciation of their patriotic and religious background. The whole "way of life" has been reorganized for the better For example:

I joined the Grange just as soon as I could after I reached my 14th birthday. Even since I have been a member of the Grange, I have taken active part in the ritualism. I have studied the unwritten work and have studied the code. I believe that Grange ritualism is a very important part of the Grange life. When my Grange has guests, I always do things that will help to make them feel welcome to our meeting. My family and I have enjoyed the good times spent in visiting other Granges through the visitation project. Grange work is fellowship.

I participate in most all of the community service projects of our Grange and our Grange youth. Some of the things included on this are:
1. Water Safety. (Last summer and the summer before I assisted teaching the children to swim, and took the advanced swimming class.)
2. Toy Program. (Remaking toys for under-privileged children.)
3. Visited shut-ins in their homes, and took flowers and visited the rest home in our community.
4. Visited children's hospital (told stories to the children) and made tray favors.
5. Worked on the recreation area and Grange Hall. (Helped in clearing the woods and painting.)
6. Highway Safety Service. (I visited the Mayor's office to have a Safe Driving Proclamation signed; appeared on television twice and made a tape for radio; paraded on Gay Street in a box, and solicited signatures on Safe Driving pledges; visited 411 Speedway to encourage safe driving; participated in safe driving skits, and attended safety meetings.)
7. International Friendship. (Helped entertain international guests in our Grange.)

I feel I have helped the Grange to build a strong fraternal spirit for those of all ages by greeting and talking to as many members and visitors as possible during the Grange meeting evening. This form of fellowship helps many older folks in their personal life and helps them look forward to coming to Grange. The fellowship with the older members helps them to feel young in spirit once more. The fellowship with the younger members helps them in the many trials of their lives and helps give them some person to rely on in their many hours of need.

1 am constructing a table for the Grange Hall for use with phonograph and storing records. I worked 74 hours (in one year) collecting and repairing toys for the under-privileged children during the toy program project. I have enjoyed working on this project every year since 1 have been a Grange member and even before I became a member. I entertained an International guest in my home. Each time the Grange entertains groups of International students, one of my jobs is to furnish their transportation to and from the events.

So deeply did the Founders believe the mission of the Grange to be one of emphasizing education as a major factor in the total Grange purpose and philosophy of "developing a fuller and richer rural life," that they added a special station in the officer structure of the Grange known as that of the Worthy Lecturer.

To Grange Lecturers was given the responsibility of "leading in the literary program and the educational work of the Grange" and thus "developing and directing to greater usefulness the latent abilities of your members."
Grange Lecturers have, therefore, over this century of service had a very substantial role in the evolution and progress of Rural America. They have made a contribution to the total program of work of the Grange and to the lives, abilities, personal growth, and satisfaction of Grange members.

Dedicated and Inspired Devotion

Many indeed are the illustrations of dedicated and inspired devotion to this duty of Grange Lecturers to stimulate and inspire members of the Grange in their responsibility to each other-within the family-within the Grange-and within the community.

"As a man thinketh, so is he." To the extent that Grange Lecturers have, in various Subordinate Granges, accepted their full responsibility and have also been capable of enlisting the cooperation of Grange members, then so has that particular Grange been better equipped and more effectively motivated to carry out its purpose and develop a more significant program of work. The diligence and vision of the Grange Lecturer has, in many instances, influenced the total Grange membership, and helped to build Grange prestige.

Often the will and purpose of the entire Grange membership may be generated or modified in proportion to the effectiveness of the Lecturer's (literary and educational) program in "regular meetings." This will be no less important in the program of the Grange in the century ahead. New ideas and their development are an essential ingredient of positive and constructive action. Progress may be achieved out of such action.

Subordinate Grange Lecturers have been charged as recently as the current year to:

Lead in the educational program, and to recognize that we must, in the Grange, seek to correct the erroneous impression in the minds of many that education' has become a function and a product of the public schools, colleges and universities alone. In the Grange we recognize that education is a continuous process, especially so in this rapidly changing world in which we are inescapably a part; and that
In a nation where we depend upon the citizens to make individual decisions daily, and collective decisions through the ballot system, education in the broadest concept becomes even more necessary.

The ultimate of education, however, must not be just job training. It must have as its objective the development of the humanities. There must be an understanding of history, literature, art, philosophies, etc.

Man is obligated to be concerned with the welfare of the human race. Therefore, our service to fellow-men must rate high.
Thus, Grange Lecturers become a very important part of the education system of a democracy.

Throughout its entire 100 years, the Grange has been fortunate, too, in having as National Lecturers men of outstanding ability, whose devotion for the Order prompted a liberal expenditure of time, and frequently, the sacrifice of important personal interests.

Duties of the Lecturer

Summarized, the duties of the Lecturer are:

  • To stimulate and develop the collective thinking of the members.
  • To be prepared with a program, with the above purpose in mind, as a vital function of each regular meeting, except those where election, degree work, and installation of officers are definitely scheduled, or where otherwise the Grange meeting is a full meeting without the Lecturer's program.
  • To encourage the young, and new members, to participate with all others in these programs and discussions.
  • To develop latent ability and challenge.
  • To incorporate subjects of international, national, state, and community interest, as well as topics regarding the home, farm and fields.
  • To assist members in knowing the Grange, local, state, and national history, policies, legislative goals, and purposes.
  • To encourage cooperation with the Pomona Granges and the Subordinate Granges within Pomona jurisdiction.
  • To know and take appropriate account of state and national Grange Lecturer suggestions.
  • To help develop and participate in County, State, District, and Regional Conferences to stimulate each other.

To Develop a Higher Manhood and Womanhood Among Ourselves

One of the real opportunities-and obligations of the Grange Lecturer, which has been met exceedingly well over this century, is to help the individual grow in mind and purpose. The fraternal atmosphere of Grange meetings extends to Grange Lecturers' unique privileges and opportunities; even as the plant grows and develops in the proper climate and in fertile soil.

It is in this climate and this fraternal structure that Grange Lecturers have been peculiarly successful in many cases in encouraging the young and the difficult to become writers, readers, and speakers in the Grange meetings. Hence, Granges and Grange members have developed leadership, and have directed that leadership into greater usefulness, in and out of the Grange.

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