WASHINGTON – The nation’s capital turned green for agriculture on March 18 for National Ag Day. National Grange Youth Ambassadors Cassidy Cheddar of Elizabethtown, Pa. and Derek Snyder of Boiling Springs, Pa. joined more than 100 college students to deliver a message for agriculture to their legislators.
“There is a growing divide between the farm and the consumer. And, for most high school students, unless they are enrolled in a vocational agricultural program, their exposure to farming practices is limited,” said Cheddar. She is a senior studying agricultural education at Penn State with plans to teach after graduation.
Ag Day is another way to raise awareness to the value of agriculture. An Elizabethtown Area Grange #2076 member, Cheddar has organized several agriculture awareness programs through her local Grange including a June Dairy Month coloring contest and past local Ag Day programs.
This year’s celebration theme selected by the Agriculture Council of America is “Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations.”
In addition to visiting with their congressmen and senators, Cheddar and Snyder participated in the Ag Day Mix and Mingle Luncheon at the capitol. The luncheon was emceed by agricultural broadcaster Orion Samuelson and featured the Outstanding Young Farmer honorees and members of Congress.
“Even if you do not farm, agriculture is important,” Snyder said. “He is a freshman at Penn State University, majoring in business and economics. He is a member of Valley Grange #1360. Food insecurity is a community service priority at his home Grange. They have organized food drives for local food banks. This past January, his Grange donated money for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s “Fill a Glass of Hope” milk drive. The funds were used to provide fresh milk to needy families. “I am always touched how something as simple as the gift of milk can have such a profound impact to those in need,” Snyder said.
Cheddar and Snyder met with Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa. 16), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa. 11) and senate staff for Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). At the Mix and Mingle event, the ambassadors visited with House Agriculture Committee chair Rep. K. Michael Conaway of Texas.
National Ag Day was created to generate awareness to food and fiber production and the role agriculture plays in providing a safe, affordable food supply.
National Grange Legislative Director Burton Eller and National Grange Youth Director Charlene Shupp Espenshade joined the ambassadors for their visits to Capitol Hill and National Ag Day activities.
The National Grange’s youth department encourages its youth and young adults to explore different aspects of agriculture. The William Saunders Agricultural Achievement Award program asks Grangers to explore and participate in an agricultural experience. This year, the National Grange formed a partnership with the National Junior Horticultural Association to raise awareness to the horticulture industry. The Apathy Not Allowed program is a grassroots advocacy program.