One of the youth groups participating in this year’s Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair is the High Desert Grange, an organization that fosters leadership and agriculture among its members.
FFA and 4-H students as well as members of the Grange will showcase their animals and be involved with other agricultural displays this weekend during the annual Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair at the Churchill County Fairgrounds.
Carl Clinger, who owns a ranch and 3,000 acres in the lower Lovelock valley, and Gloria Montero of the Montero Goat Farm in Churchill County, discussed the Grange program members of the Rotary Club of Fallon and its history.
“The Grange began in 1867 by farmers and a lady after the Civil War,” said Clinger.
Clinger said Grange sprung up in communities in the South and also gave women equal rights along with the men. Additionally, four official positions with Grange were created solely for women, Clinger added.
When Grange began, the founders envisioned the organization assuming a grassroots function and lobbying Congress for land grant colleges, farm bureaus and 4-H programs for the youngsters. Now, the mission has changed somewhat although agriculture is a key function.
“The main thrust now is with wideband communication,” Clinger said.
Clinger related additional historical information on the Grange. He said many miners coming from California to Nevada eventually started the first Grange in the late 1800s. Since that time it has expanded in Nevada with the Churchill County Grange becoming the state’s 22nd chapter. Clinger said the other Granges are in Winnemucca, Elko, Tonopah, Smith Valley, Carson City and Silver Springs.
Now, Grange chapters can be found in 35 states, which Clinger said, are stretched across the United States. He said Nevada has the third highest enrollment of Grange members of all the states.
Clinger said the High Desert Grange has more than 300 members which range in ages 5 to 14. Each Grange, he said, is responsible for its own programs.
“We have teamed with Christian schools. They have in-school Grange programs,” he added. Montero said the Grange members are involved with the community such as with the country fair and Wreaths Across America, to name a few.
Every December after the Wreaths Across America program, Montero said the members collect the evergreen wreaths for their goats and sheep. Individuals buy wreaths to place on gravesites every year with the program commencing on the third Saturday. The Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery places more than 7,000 wreaths on the graves, while the Churchill County Cemetery has more than 1,200 veterans’ gravesites.
According to Montero, the Grange receives a donation for taking the wreaths.
The Grange is involved with cleaning the trails along the Carson River below the Lahontan Dam and has established its archery and shooting program.
“We partner with Stillwater Firearms Association, and they let us use their facility, and their trainers, who help us,” Montero said.
During the year, Montero said the members learn homemaking activities such as sewing and candle making, and present Ag in the Classroom at the Fallon Youth Center. Near the end of the year, Montero said the Grange is involved with a fundraiser to bring toys to less fortunate children in the community and bring a convoy of lights to the city’s streets.