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National Grange News
Masters and Officers Gather at the 2008 Masters' Conference

By By Jennifer Dugent, National Grange Communications Director

  MAY 2008 -- On February 15, 2008, State Masters and National Officers from across the country traveled to Irving, Texas for the 2008 National Grange Masters’ Conference. “It has always been a good time to get together with other State Masters and compare notes, but this year was such an upbeat meeting full of optimism and enthusiasm for the future!” said Betsy Huber, Pennsylvania State Master.

Indeed, State Masters and National Officers did not know what to expect at this year’s Conference. The recently elected National Grange Master, Ed Luttrell, had a little over 2 months to plan his first Masters’ Conference. The attendees were pleasantly surprised by the end product.

The Program

When the attendees arrived at the Comfort Inn DFW North on Friday evening, time was not wasted. There was an opening session for Introductions of new officers and staff so that everyone was acquainted. Texas Chili was served for the hungry travelers. National Master Ed Luttrell spoke about what he wanted to accomplish for the weekend, presenting the theme “Application is the Key.” He emphasized to the group that, “It is time to stop talking about the future and start creating the future we want.”

The weekend was jam-packed with a slate of educational workshops and team building exercises. The first workshop, “How Do We Accomplish Priorities 1 & 2?” was presented by National Master Ed. “Increase active membership and participation at each Community Grange” and “Develop new leaders and give them opportunities at each Community Grange” were the first two of five priorities developed by the National Grange to help the organization flourish.

Overseer and North Carolina State Master Jimmy Gentry partnered with Ed to share with the group a presentation entitled “What are We Going to Do to Protect Ourselves”, which educated the attendees when it came to liability and protection of the Grange and our members at all levels. Newly appointed Membership/Leadership Director Rusty Hunt gave two encouraging workshops; one about revitalization and one entitled “Herding Cats, What is a Successful Grange (and How to Create One)”. It was an excellent opportunity for the Masters and Officers to get to know him and learn how his department programs will benefit their Granges. Joe Fryman, Nebraska State Master, commented, “We all enjoyed hearing from Rusty Hunt. He is really positive, and I think it is going to be great to have him on the job.”

National Master Ed also presented workshops entitled “Family is Our Bond”, and “New Granges”. These workshops focused on the importance of our family structure, tips to improve Granges, and building new ones, respectively. Of course it was not all work and no fun. National Lecturer, Judy Sherrod, lead the group in fun team building games before they retired for the evening. In addition, National Chaplain, John West performed his duties including a worship service on Sunday morning.

A Renewed Direction

The weekend was intended to be a time to build teamwork and encourage Grange leaders that there is a future for the National Grange. “It generated a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and hope for Grange growth,” Oregon State Master Phyllis Wilson added, “We all left in high gear, and hopefully we can implement everything that we took away to our State Granges.” Binders were made for the attendees that were filled with helpful information and programs to be taken back to the States. “The materials provided by the National Grange staff were excellent,” said New Jersey State Master Pete Pompper. “Masters had a lot to take away from this Conference.” “There was a renewed sense of direction,” shared Montana State Master Marty Billquist. “We went from a ‘maybe we can do it’ to a ‘we CAN do it’ attitude; all the maybes were gone.” Joe Fryman added, “This weekend helped us realize that we can get this job done. We can get membership growth on track like we want it. I hope everyone gets on board and realizes what an opportunity we have.”


The attendees left Texas with a new attitude of what the Grange can accomplish, and met some new friends along the way. This was the first event that everyone could meet the new National Grange Meeting Planner, Margaret Maxwell. “The organization by Margaret Maxwell was incredible; we all fell in love with her!” said Phyllis Wilson. Masters are looking forward to seeing what she can do for the National Grange Convention in Cromwell, Connecticut this November.

All and all, the 2008 National Grange Masters Conference was a success. But it will only be as successful as the results that stem from it. New York State Master Oliver Orton said it best, “The positive attitude is what’s going to do it for us, and I can tell, we’re going to make a turnaround.”

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