Valley Granger Receives National Award

Abbot Resident Walter Boomsma was recognized at the 156th Annual National Grange Convention in Reno, Nevada as a Cultivator of the Year by the National Grange Membership and Leadership Development Department. Boomsma is a member of Valley Grange of Guilford and serves as program director. He also serves as the Maine State Grange Communications Director. He was one of four individuals recognized from North Carolina, Connecticut, Montana, and Maine.

According to Amanda Brozana Rios, National Grange Leadership/Membership Director, the Cultivator of the Year award sets out to honor individuals or groups that “put in the work” to grow the Grange through innovative and positive messaging and programming or that found ways to improve not just their local Grange, but to provide “a guiding light for Granges around the nation.” “Each of these individuals helped the Grange in their respective communities and states, but they went far beyond that. Every one of them was responsive to inquiries and provided insight into what individuals coming to Grange are looking for as well as the tools they need to truly engage as Grange members. They give selflessly and promote fearlessly and for that, they are truly deserving of this recognition.”

In making the award, Brozana Rios said as the former National Communications Director, she has worked with Walter for more than a decade. “Over the time I’ve been with National Grange, I’ve come to truly appreciate how much Walter does to connect the outside world with the Grange, be it answering questions of the press or people interested in joining or reviving a Grange, connecting members with resources and benefits they’re entitled to and so much more. He’s a fantastic asset for the Maine State Grange and the Grange as a whole who often points out where we can improve and be more efficient even with our limited resources,” Brozana Rios said.

Boomsma first learned of the award when someone congratulated him on social media. “What did I do?” he asked. Upon learning the specifics, he noted, “For me, the work is the reward, but recognition is still nice!” he admitted. “I enjoy being part of the Grange because of our shared values, including the importance of community, especially in rural areas. The Grange has a lot to offer, including multiple opportunities to strengthen our communities and the individuals in them.” One of his favorite examples is the Valley Grange “Words for Thirds” Dictionary Project. “Valley Grange just completed our twentieth year of giving a dictionary to every third grader in four school districts in our area. In that twenty-year period, we’ve distributed over 3,600 dictionaries to that many kids. That’s a lot of cultivating!”

As the State Communications Director, Boomsma is responsible for maintaining the State Grange Website (http://mainestategrange.org) and producing a monthly printed Bulletin. “The Grange is truly a grassroots organization and the emphasis on local programs is our biggest strength and a significant challenge. That challenge includes making sure we are all connected and working collaboratively. Those were the things that made the Grange successful over 150 years ago. We have amazing technology today and we should be even better at it!”

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