Gail Switzer national Grange award winner
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.