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Apathy Not Allowed: New Grange Youth Legislative Program
 

By Grace Boatright, National Grange Legislative Director (National Grange Newswire 2/1/13)

  FEBRUARY 24, 2013 --

The National Grange Legislative Department already has several irons in the fire for 2013. Obviously, with the new Congress coming into town, I’ll spend quite a lot of time on the Hill getting to know the new legislators and their staff. I also plan to do quite a bit of fundraising in 2013 to help bring in some new money, which will also include writing a “fundraising guidebook” for the state and local Granges to use as well.

One of my top priorities for 2013 is to install a dedicated stream of communication between the National Grange and the state and local Granges. That includes writing more blogs, emails, newsletters and most of all- updating our Action Alert system. Grangers can’t advocate for themselves if they don’t know what’s going on, and it’s my job to see that they’re aware of what’s happening here in DC. Even more than that, I want to teach Grangers how to advocate for themselves and become involved members of their communities.

As part of my efforts to teach Grangers about advocacy, I’ve developed a program called Apathy Not Allowed that is aimed at teaching youth and young adults the vital importance of civic participation. Naturally, this includes teaching them the importance of voting, but I really want to show them how to influence public policy in other ways. Voter turnout for federal elections usually averages between 50 and 60% of eligible voters. I think that’s a horrible number and explains many of the problems we’re currently experiencing in this country. Democracy might be the best form of government, but it’s still government and we as citizens always need to be mindful of what our government is doing. Public apathy towards government, politics and public policy is how government oppression takes root and we can never allow that to happen.

Similarly, I’ve also started to develop a new “mission” of sorts for the Grange: trying to get agricultural education back into our public schools. Currently, most public school curriculum is completely void of any and all agricultural education. We are raising a generation of kids who have no concept of where their food comes from or the methods by which it is grown. This has led to a general public that is easily swayed by anti-agricultural groups and the untruths they spread. Educating them at a young age, showing them all of the ways in which agriculture and rural America impacts their lives is the only way to ensure that our youth will come to value agriculture and possibly even choose farming or ranching as their careers one day.

However, this new mission isn’t simply a business decision, but represents a higher calling necessary to the sustainment of an efficient and abundant food supply. The world population has doubled since 1960 and is expected to double again by 2050. Meanwhile, the number of people employed in agriculture has been cut in half since 1946 and now less than 1% of the population can claim farming as their occupation. In other words, the demand for food is rising at an alarming rate, and our ability to meet that demand has fallen by just as much. This absolutely cannot continue if we expect to enjoy the same safe and competent food supply we do now. As a community-based, nonpartisan organization, the Grange has a unique opportunity to begin this campaign and change the future for generations to come and I want to get started on that change right away.

 
 
 
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