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Annual Session - Master's Address
Master's Addresses are available for download in PDF form on the downloads page.
Master's Address for year:
Date of Address: October 20, 2022
Session: 138th State Session
State Master / President: George Russell

Brothers and Sisters of the Connecticut State Grange,

It’s hard to believe that my fourth year as your President of the Connecticut State Grange is coming to a close. It just seems like it was yesterday that the Prelli Team installed me as your 38th president. Where has the time gone? As we look back over the last four years, we have had a lot of changes in our State Grange. Some were not by choice. We had to go along with the COVID-19 pandemic protocols and our Granges couldn’t meet in person or have their fundraisers. The COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on many of our Granges and their members and they are still trying to recover and get back on their feet. My first year in office, we hosted the Northeast Leaders’ Conference which was a great success but who would have thought it would be the only one in my four years in office. New York State Grange and Maine State Grange in 2021 and 2022 had conferences scheduled but had to cancel because of the pandemic. Plans are being made to hold the three conferences, Northeast Leaders, Youth and Lecturers in Rhode Island in 2023.


Faith Quinlan, our Membership Director, along with her committee have worked hard over the past year to present the resolution on Associate Membership. At last year’s session, a resolution was passed that the Executive and Membership Committees develop a proposal for Associate Membership in our state and this proposal was submitted to the 2022 Annual Session for delegate action. The Membership Committee did their homework and contacted the other states who have Associate Members and got their input to come up with this resolution. I would like to thank Faith and her committee for doing the research and coming up with this resolution.

Unfortunately, we lost two Granges this past year, Colchester #78 and Wallingford #33. Colchester merged with Coventry Grange. Wallingford surrendered their charter last July. We are looking to reorganize this Grange before we put the Grange Hall on the market. We did reorganize Redding Grange with the help of the Membership Committee and Elizabeth Jensen, the new president of Redding Grange. The 33 new members witnessed the welcome ceremony and the presentation of the charter to the new Redding Grange President. Even with these 33 new members from Redding, we still had a decline in membership for the state this last year.

The Board of Directors have put in a by-law change to increase the dues paid to the Connecticut State Grange. There hasn’t been a dues increase in several years and your board feels it is time that we have a slight increase.


In November, Sharon and I attended the 155th National Grange Convention in Wichita, Kansas. The main topic of the convention was what to do with a 61-year-old, 11-story Grange building in Washington, D.C. Should we continue to fix-up and remodel the building or should we put it on the market and sell it and find a new home for National Grange? After several reports of what it would cost to remodel the building, it looked like the best option was to sell.

After the delegates spent many hours discussing the pros and cons for the headquarters building, it was suggested to take a roll call vote on Wednesday afternoon. It showed a clear majority in favor of selling the building.

The building was put on the market the first part of this year and there were many interested in purchasing the building but it has not sold as of the writing of this report.

This year is the 156th National Grange Annual Convention at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada from November 15-19, 2022.

The 157th National Grange Convention will be back in the Northeast in 2023. It will be held at the Conference and Events Center in Niagara Falls, Sheraton at the Falls in Niagara Falls, New York, November 14th to the 18th, 2023. So, if you don’t want to fly across the country this November, next year will be about a 6 to 8 hour car ride depending on what part of the state you’re in. The Northeast Connection has been working on this convention for the past year. They will be looking for volunteers to help during that week.


After the fifth year of our Pomona restructuring, it is still hard to get good attendance at these meetings. This year the three Pomonas have managed to confer the Fifth Degree for inspection and all three Pomonas received the Honor Pomona Grange this year. This past year some changes have been made in the scheduling of the Pomona meetings. Mountain Laurel Pomona has moved its time from 4 o’clock to 2 o’clock on the first Saturday of the month and the first Sunday in December. Eastern Connecticut Pomona has moved its meeting days to the first Saturday of the month instead of the Second Saturday, hoping there’s less conflict with this date. Nutmeg Pomona has kept their schedule the same. With all the changes, I hope to get better attendance.

If these schedules do not work, maybe it’s time we re-look at the Pomonas?


The Connecticut State Grange continues to support education with scholarships and student loans available for Grange members. Each year the Connecticut State Grange has a sizable amount of money for our scholarship funds. First year college students can be awarded $500. The upper class students can receive scholarships upwards of $2,000 or more, depending on how much money is available and how many students apply. There are usually many applications each year for this money. The scholarship committee meets and goes over the applications of all the students and decides if they are eligible to receive the money. They will announce the recipients on Friday night at the Celebration Banquet. The winners of the scholarships are invited to this banquet along with their parents. Thank you to the Scholarship Committee for all their hard work for the last four years under my leadership.

The State Grange also has a loan program where a student can apply for up to a $10,000 student loan at 5% interest. These are two good incentives why our youth should join the Grange.

We continue to support the Vocational Agriculture Science Schools and the FFA across the state. These students learn the skills to become leaders of agricultural organizations and managers of livestock farms, orchards, vineyards, greenhouses, nurseries and other valuable agricultural resources throughout the state. The Vocational Agriculture Science Schools are a vital part of our agricultural industry here in Connecticut.

Each year our Community Granges, along with the Connecticut State Grange donate towards the FFA Foundation. This money is used for awards and helps to pay expenses for the judging teams to compete at the National FFA Convention and many other projects throughout the year. It’s always nice to see the students in the blue jackets come in and address us at the State Session. When was the last time you invited your local FFA chapter to speak at your Grange?


Agriculture in Connecticut continues to contribute about $4 billion to our state’s economy each year and furnishes approximately 22,000 jobs statewide. These jobs consist of production, processing and agri-business. With a total of 5,500 farms spread across 381,540 acres, greenhouse and nursery production accounts for 50% of Connecticut agriculture production. Other crops include orchards, vineyards, dairy production, shellfish (oysters and clams) and many other livestock and crops. Connecticut has quite a variety of farm products. With more than 100 farmers’ markets and 200 farm stands across the state, Connecticut consumers have fresh, local food available year-round.

Last March, the Connecticut State Grange set up a booth for Ag Day at the Governor William O’Neill Armory in Hartford. This year was a new site instead of being set up in the Capitol. The Armory gave us more room to set-up and talk to legislators and the general public who passed through that day. Noel Miller, Ted Powell, Phil Prelli and myself had a chance to talk to legislators and the FFA chapters in attendance that day.

The State Grange should continue to support the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut. We should also continue to support the Connecticut Experiment Station in New Haven, which also includes the Lockwood Farm and Valley Laboratories in Windsor. We know how valuable these entities are to our farmers and citizens in the State of Connecticut. We should urge our Congressional delegation to make sure there is funding available for the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the College of Agriculture.


I would like to thank the officers and directors of the Connecticut State Grange for all their efforts over the last four years through some difficult times. I would like to especially thank Todd Gelineau, our State Secretary, for getting information out about the Granges in a timely manner over the past four years.

Your Board of Directors has decided to stay with the Zoom meeting format. It works well for our monthly meetings. I think we should thank our Board of Directors, Alma Graham, Chairperson, and the rest of the committee, Ruel Miller, Noel Miller, Donald Lanoue, Nancy Strong, Bob Buck, Jody Cameron and Todd Gelineau for their tireless work throughout this last year. Each of these board members has contributed in many different ways to keep your State Grange running smoothly.

Because there was a lack of deputies in some areas, I had to assign special deputies to go in and help some Granges that needed assistance. One of those special deputies is the Assistant Steward, Roy Harrington. Roy has been helping Redding Grange this past year on how to function as a Grange. This reorganized Grange and all of its members are new to this organization.

I would like to thank the officers, deputies and committees who have served with me these last four years and when things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, somebody always stepped up and found a way to persevere.


It was a privilege to serve as your State Master/President over the last four years. Sharon and I were honored to represent the Connecticut State Grange at the National Grange Convention the last four years. We attended the conventions in-person for three years and the 2020 Convention was done online. I had the privilege of being in the Memorial Service all four years to honor our Past Voting Delegates. 2018 for Ellsworth Beecher, 2019 for Sharyn Wetmore, 2020 for Margaret Sendewicz and 2021 for Russell Gray. In 2018 and 2019, I had the honor of placing a rose on the altar as the National Secretary read a tribute to Brother Beecher and Sister Wetmore. In 2020, I read a tribute online for Sister Sendewicz and I had the honor of reading a tribute for Russell Gray. The National Chaplain does an excellent job in putting together the tributes to all the Past Delegates that have gone on to the Great Grange Above.

Sharon participated in the Seventh Degree for the three years that we met in-person. The Seventh Degree was on Saturday. This kept Sharon pretty busy, they had rehearsal that morning and the degree was conferred in the afternoon.

Sharon and I really enjoyed attending the National Convention. We met and made friends with many of the State Presidents and their spouses across the country and I hope to continue to be in touch with them and will hopefully meet up with them again in Niagara Falls, New York in 2023.

I know over the last four years there have been some decisions made by your Board of Directors and myself that have upset some of our members. All of the decisions that are made by the Board are in the best interest of the Connecticut State Grange.

In closing, I would like to thank all of the members of the Connecticut State Grange for having confidence in me to lead you in the last four years. I had a Past President tell me that I went through the same things he did when he was the State President except for the pandemic. I think the pandemic was the biggest obstacle we had to get through in the last couple of years. As fellow Grangers, we persevered and got through it and now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Like I have ended so many articles during the past two years of the pandemic: Stay safe and be healthy.

Respectfully submitted,

George Russell
State Master/President

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