The Grange International Exchange Program and Reunion
After World War II, the United States expanded its international scope. The Grange followed suit, with National Master Albert S. Goss and Herschel D. Newsome working with the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. Addressing the 1949 National Grange Convention, Goss stating, “The Grange has long advocated the exchange of students between nations as a means of promoting better farming and better understanding and goodwill. A year ago we advocated exchange of farm workers and exchange students who would work part time on a farm as a means of aiding in paying the cost of tuition, transportation and other expenses. During the year(1949) we made a beginning and were able to place a number of young Danish farm workers in Grange homes for an experimental twelve month period. Other countries will gradually be brought into the program. This work should be expanded and pushed and efforts should be made to make it possible for some of our young people to go to other countries under similar conditions.”
The Grange members heeded the call, and the program grew exponentially. Between 1949-66, 39 countries were involved with the program, and over 1,700 young adults were placed with Grange farms across the country. One of the largest efforts within this program was the placement of over 500 German teenagers over a six-year period, from 1950-56. This extensive project pulled together a variety of organizations, including the Grange, the US State Department, the Young Farmer Project, Deutscher Bauernverband, Land Jugend and the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. This was a truly collaborative effort, as twenty of the former Grange host families traveled to Germany to work with some of the same teenagers that had worked with them in the US. In addition to working on German farms, the Grangers, which became known as the 1956 Grange Family Tour, toured various home economic and agricultural schools and met with agricultural leaders from a variety of European countries before returning home.
After years of planning and smaller reunions over the year, a larger, official reunion took place in 1994. The above pictured book is a collection of experiences and travels since then.