WILDWOOD, N.J. – Grangers from across the Eastern Region gathered in Wildwood, N.J. for the 2016 Eastern Regional Youth Conference. The event was a time for fun, fellowship and Grange education. The event was at the Montego Bay Resort and when the weather permitted, youth were able to enjoy the beach.
Saturday April 16 started with youth learning about the legislative voting process. Youth were grouped and assigned into legislative district. They were challenged to decide how to vote on key issues. The choice they had to make – vote with their elected party, vote with the majority of their constituency or their personal view. Some youth struggled with searching for the correct answer in their district, which could conflict with their personal belief. Based on their votes, they gained points to see if they would be re-elected at the next “election.”
The community service project for the conference was participating in the state basketball tournament for the New Jersey Special Olympics. Grange youth cheered for all of the players as they competed in their game.
“It was great to see the Olympians as they competed,” said National Grange Outstanding Young Patron Robert Beamon from Pennsylvania. “We loved cheering for all of the players as they scored.”
Completing the night was the regional contest competitions. Pennsylvania youth Phil Vonada won the regional Sign-A-Song contest. The judges, several which were multi-generational deaf, also provided tips and advice to all of the Grangers about sign language. The judges also signed their appreciation for the group for those willing to learn the skill. One tip the youth appreciated was learning how to show the difference in their “applause.”
Arden Fitch of Ohio won the Best of Show award in the speech contest for a moving discussion on the need to document historic barns. He also topped the “radio spot” contest, focusing on encouraging people to join the Grange.
Grange Jeopardy had contestants from three states, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Jennifer Lanstrum topped the contest. Phil Vonada was second and Gail Switzer was third. Both are from Pennsylvania. The three will represent the Eastern Region at the National Grange Jeopardy Contest on Nov. 18.
“Grange Jeopardy is always a competitive event. Youth are challenged on their Grange knowledge,” said National Grange Outstanding Young Patron Jennifer Beamon. Beamon won the national contest last year.
New Jersey organized time for youth to enjoy the beach and to walk the boardwalk. A stop at the Wildwoods sign documented the trip.
There are five more regional youth conferences scheduled for the Northeastern, Southeastern, Midwestern, Great Plains and Western Region. For more information on the other 2016 conferences, go to www.nationalgrangeyouth.org.
A video of the winning sign-a-song by Phil Vonada is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu8dGIXPylM
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For additional photos about the event, go to the National Grange Youth Facebook page, www.facebook.com/nationalgrangeyouth/.