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Around The Grange
Victor Salazar: Putting education to work
 

By Charlene Espenshade, Youth Development Director (New Grange May/June 2011)

  JUNE 2, 2011 --

In a room full of FFA officers, 4-H members and youth agricultural leaders from across the country, Grange youth Victor Salazar was given a unique experience. To kick off the National Ag Day celebration in Washington, DC last March, Salazar introduced Congressman Frank Lucus, chair of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee.

Orion Samuelson, nationally recognized agriculture broad-caster, presented Salazar for the introduction. Lucas referred to Salazar as “Mister President” as part of his thank you for the introduction, an ironic twist for someone dreaming of a political career. “It truly was an honor for me to be able to introduce Representative Lucas,” said Salazar. “I hope to one day be standing in his shoes and be a voice for American agriculture from a political arena.”

A Eureka Grange member, he has used his time in Grange, along with his FFA experience to pursue his career dreams and goals. At the 2010 National Grange Session in North Carolina, Salazar was the John Trimble Youth Legislative Experience participant. He is also the 2010-11 Connecticut State FFA President.

Politics has always been a passion of this Connecticut Granger and he has used opportunities in both FFA and Grange to gain experience to advance his career goals. He is a sophomore at the University of Hartford, majoring in politics and government.
FFA provided a background in how meetings run, the delegate decision-making process and interpersonal skills to resolve issues. Grange has helped Salazar to put those skills into practice.

At the National Grange session, the Legislative Youth Experience program gives Grange youth the unique opportunity to join Grange State Masters and delegates in deciding the direction of the nation’s oldest agricultural, rural organization. Youth are not able to vote on the delegate floor, but they can actively engage in committee discussion and vote. Salazar was also partnered with New Hampshire Grange delegate Arthur Merrill as a mentor.

“Participating in the Trimble Experience has certainly helped me with my FFA responsibilities,” he said. “Being able to watch (the delegates) in action on the delegate floor gave me another opportunity to see great leaders and learn from them.”
He said the committee meetings were a “chance to try my lobbying skills. As a State FFA officer I will have to lobby the state government, especially in these tough economic times, for funds.”

Each Grange member can draft resolutions to make changes to the organization’s policy. In 2010, Salazar crafted a resolution to encourage a closer working relationship between the two organizations. It passed the National Grange delegate body.

“The best part of the experience was watching the delegate floor, and more specifically watching the resolution that I wrote in my own Grange pass on the floor of the National Grange,” he said. “It was an inspiring process to see my resolution go from the community Grange to the Pomona Grange, to the State Grange, and last but not least to see it pass the National Grange. It showed me that anyone truly can make a difference.”

Salazar is beginning to close out his FFA career. Grange continues to open doors for him. What will his future hold, only time will tell, but he encourages youth to get involved and take advantage of every opportunity to learn.

“The Trimble Experience was once in a lifetime experience that I will forever remember. I would encourage all Grange youth to apply for the experience, to learn about the Grange, the delegate process, and have a lot of fun too,” he said. “I would also encourage FFA members to find a local Grange and get involved. I always say, the Grange is like the FFA for all ages. Getting involved in a local Grange will give you the opportunity to grow as an individual and a leader.”

 

Note:  Salazar is Treasurer of Eureka Grange, Steward of Mountain County Pomona Grange, and is the CT State Grange Deputy for Mountain County Pomona.

 
 
 
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