Gail Switzer na­tional Grange award win­ner

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - COMMUNITY -

WASH­ING­TON, D.C. >> The Na­tional Grange an­nounced West Ch­ester na­tive Gail Switzer, who main­tains her ac­tive mem­ber­ship at Mar­ion Grange No. 1853 in Berks County, has been cho­sen the 2016 John Trim­ble Leg­isla­tive Ex­pe­ri­ence (JTLE) Par­tic­i­pant.

The JTLE is a pres­ti­gious pro­gram spon­sored by the Na­tional Grange Youth Foun­da­tion that pro­vides young mem­bers, age 14 to 34, the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate at the Grange’s an­nual na­tional con­ven­tion. This year the Na­tional Grange will hold its 150th An­nual Con­ven­tion in Hern­don, Vir­ginia.

As the JTLE par­tic­i­pant, Switzer will serve as a vot­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber with the op­por­tu­nity to share the voice of young mem­bers and in­flu­ence what res­o­lu­tions from her com­mit­tee will be con­sid­ered by the full vot­ing body to be­come pol­icy for the nearly 150-year-old or­ga­ni­za­tion. Only those des­ig­nated by States Granges as their del­e­gate or del­e­gates, based on the num­ber of ac­tive Granges their state has at the time of the con­ven­tion, are able to vote on pol­icy on the floor.

Switzer said she is look­ing for­ward to learn­ing from this ex­pe­ri­ence, pro­vid­ing a youth perspective on Grange is­sues and po­ten­tial pol­icy and shar­ing knowl­edge about the work­ings of the Or­der at its high­est de­lib­er­a­tive level with Grange mem­bers in Berks County and be­yond.

“As the Berks County Ju­nior Di­rec­tor, I think this will be a great op­por­tu­nity to share with the Ju­nior Granges a bit about how the Na­tional Grange works and how im­por­tant it is to be in­volved in the leg­isla­tive process, both in the Grange and in lo­cal, state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment,” Switzer said.

Na­tional Grange Youth De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor Char­lene Shupp Espen­shade said while all the can­di­dates were very wor­thy of serv­ing, she be­lieves Switzer is a great fit for the pro­gram dur­ing the his­toric 150th Con­ven­tion.

“The John Trim­ble Leg­isla­tive Ex­pe­ri­ence is a great hands-on learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for Grange Youth. Dur­ing the course of ses­sion, Gail will be able to learn about the Na­tional Grange pol­icy de­vel­op­ment process,” Espen­shade said. “She will par­tic­i­pate on one of the Na­tional Grange pol­icy com­mit­tees and as­sist the leg­isla­tive depart­ment as del­e­gates ex­e­cute their pol­icy de­ci­sions.”

Na­tional Grange Pres­i­dent Betsy Huber, of Le­moyne, Penn­syl­va­nia, said she has known Switzer for many years as the two both at­tend Goshen Grange No. 121 in Ch­ester County. Huber, would tra­di­tion­ally serve as a re­viewer of ap­pli­cants for the JTLE pro­gram, but re­cused her­self be­cause of the con­nec­tion, said she is con­fi­dent Switzer will bring a great deal to the com­mit­tee she is as­signed.

Switzer re­cently earned her master’s de­gree from Texas A&M in Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion with an em­pha­sis in Be­hav­ioral Anal­y­sis. She said she has be­come in­creas­ingly more in­ter­ested in the leg­isla­tive work of the Grange be­cause of her job as a teacher for autis­tic chil­dren at a school for chil­dren with spe­cial needs.

“Work­ing with in­di­vid­u­als on the autism spec­trum has taught me that we all need to look out for the rights of those with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties, de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties and other ge­netic and neu­ro­log­i­cal di­ag­noses. Or­ga­ni­za­tions like the Grange have the power to see that they don’t fall through the cracks when it comes to leg­isla­tive pol­icy,” Switzer said.

Gail Switzer

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