By Abigail Sharp, National Grange Intern
WASHINGTON— Around the country, many celebrated farmers, ranchers and food as part of National Ag Day,
but for several members of the Grange, the day included advocacy in Washington, D.C.
National Grange Young Patrons, Katie Fallon of New York, and Brittney Oliver, of Washington,
and National Grange Youth Ambassadors, Rylee Furr and Zac Mazag, both of North Carolina,
traveled to Washington DC on March 13, excited to be a part of the event. National Grange
Intern and New Jersey Grange Member Abigail Sharp also took part in the events.
“National Agriculture Day is really about celebrating today’s opportunities for the next
generation to survive and thrive in agriculture,” National Grange Legislative Director Burton
The team and Sharp had scheduled meetings with their Congressmen and Senators on Ag Day
and took part in briefings at the Grange building over the course of the two days.
The eve of National Ag Day saw the group, and several Grange Staff along with National Grange
President Betsy Huber at Capitol Visitor Center for the Taste of Ag event where they mingled
and networked with counterparts from ag-oriented nonprofits and corporations.
Following that event, Eller briefed the attendees on what was expected and most efficient
when meeting with Congressional Representatives and their staff.
He stressed early arrival, making discussion relevant to the district and your hometown, and
how to talk about Grange priority issues.
The main Grange policies that he provided more detailed information about were rural
broadband and privacy, telemedicine and health care, ag labor and imported drugs.
On Ag Day, Youth Team members and staff set off to the Hill. In all, the team saw North
Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, Congressmen Jeff Van Drew, of New Jersey, and Congressman Dan
Newhouse, of Washington; as well as staff members from the offices of New York Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand, North Carolina Congressman Richard Hudson and North Carolina Senator
Furr said after her three appointments that she felt connected to the legislators and believed
she had made a small impact for her neighbors back home.
The team also attended an Ag Day panel discussion at the National Press Club, led by Deputy
Secretary of the USDA Stephen Censky, which focused on the future of agriculture as well as
misconceptions of agriculture from the perspective of high school and college students from
The panelists were asked what organizations they are interested in joining after college, and, if
they aren’t sure, what traits are they looking for in an organization, and they all discussed as
assets of a future organization involvement in a broader community and a focus on advocacy –
resonating with the Grangers in the room and reminding them that our grassroots structure
and service are relevant for future members like these.
Mazag said for the Youth Team, this was an opportunity to experience part of what National
Grange does to advocate for rural America and its members, and a great way for the Grange to
help youth see what they may want to become.
“The biggest thing I gained from yesterday was simply being in the political, DC environment,”
Mazag said. “It solidified the fact that I want to work on Capitol Hill one day.”