WASHINGTON – National Ag Day is typically celebrated on the first day of spring to increase awareness to the values of agriculture. On March 15, National Grange Youth Ambassador Shannon Ruso of New Baltimore, New York traveled to Washington to join other youth for Ag Day activities and meet with her congressional leaders.
“The Grange was established to advance the values of rural America,” Ruso said. “It was great to see so many youth from several different organizations at our nation’s capital to celebrate farmers and the food they provide us.”
Shannon is a member of Ravena Grange #1457 in New York State.
Ruso along with National Grange Master Betsy Huber, Legislative Director Burton Eller and Youth Development Director Charlene Shupp Espenshade participated in the Ag Day Mix and Mingle Luncheon at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on March 15.
“The Grange is very proud of our youth and we are happy to give them this opportunity to see government in action and make their voices heard in our nation’s Capitol,” Huber said. “Advocacy and public service have been an important part of the Grange throughout its 150 year history. We encourage our younger members to continue that legacy.
Senator Cory Gardner, (R- CO), spoke at the event challenging the youth in the room to “carry the big rocks” for agriculture by sharing the story of what farmers provide rural America and their suburban and urban counterparts. He said people need a farmer every day, even if they do not think about it. He said more needs to be done to make it more affordable for young farmers to get started in the industry.
These events honor National Agriculture Day and mark a nationwide effort to tell the story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. A number of producers, agricultural associations, corporations, students and government organizations involved in agriculture were at the capitol to meet their legislators. This year’s Ag Day theme was Agriculture: Stewards of a Healthy Planet.
Ruso, Eller and Espenshade met with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Representative Chris Collins (R-27, NY), Representative Glenn Thompson (R-5, PA), and the agriculture, environment and healthcare staffs in the offices of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY) and Representative Chris Gibson (R-19,NY).
Ruso discussed several key Grange legislative priorities with these members of Congress and their staffs and promoted the work of the National Grange Youth Department. Ruso, Eller and Espenshade were able to sit in on part of the Senate floor debate regarding the food labeling laws for biotechnology.
Before heading to Capitol Hill, Ruso visited the National Grange Headquarters building to meet with Huber and the Washington, DC staff.