I, like most of you, believe FFA is the greatest youth organization in America. Further, I believe that alumni are the some of the best supporters for this group of bright, young students. With that said, little can be accomplished with an alumni support group unless there’s a dedicated agriculture instructor. You have such a positive influence on our youth pursuing an interest in agriculture—many times more than you’ll ever know.
It’s no secret that FFA provides opportunities for young men and women to become well-rounded individuals in our ever-changing society. It’s up to us to remain positive and enthusiastic about our future in agriculture and convey that to these students.
Yes, we have a lot of work to do as alumni to help make that happen. We must secure the promise of FFA and agricultural education by helping to create an environment where people and communities can develop their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.
The National FFA Alumni put together a taskforce of 28 individuals from across the agricultural spectrum and met late last year in Charlotte, N.C., to help figure out how and what we can do to help build relationships with advisors, FFA members, alumni and supporters. At that meeting we focused on our two long-range goals: first and foremost, every FFA chapter has an active and fully-engaged FFA Alumni affiliate at the local level. Secondly, we become leaders in advocacy for agricultural education. The participants worked diligently to create ideas and strategies that would assist FFA advisors and local affiliates grow their support base and grow affiliates across the country.
I know what you’re thinking – carrying out our goals as alumni sounds like more work for you, the agriculture instructor. We know you don’t need another task. That’s why we want you to know that alumni are here to help, not burden you with more work. We know you need SAE support/supervision, help with fundraising and scholarships, presenters for class, chaperones/bus drivers, agricultural education community supporters, advisory committee members, local advocates to influence administration/school boards and role models for your students. Just think of all of the “free” time you would have to spend with your family if you had help with all of these activities! Not to mention, you’d be less likely to burn out early in your career and we could help breathe some new life into the latter part of it. With an active alumni affiliate, let your local supporters help ensure your future in the profession of teaching and the future of agricultural education in their community.
Still not convinced that an alumni group can help you? Consider this:
What are volunteers looking for when they check out different organizations to give their time to? Many individuals just want to help young people; some want to make an impact; some want to be a mentor, be a part of something bigger than themselves; some want to connect with kids; some want fellowship/social activities. Can you put names to these individuals in your community? I bet you can. All you need to do is ask. They would likely jump at the chance to help.
The National FFA Alumni Association can provide the necessary tools and resources to make it easy to form an alumni affiliate if you don’t already have one. There are FFA Alumni members every where, ready and able to come and help you and your FFA chapter advance to the next level. The opportunities are endless when you have an active alumni affiliate.
Last year the National FFA Alumni Association gave more than $280,000 to FFA members and alumni through our incentive programs. Did you get a piece of that action? Your students need to be exposed to these kinds of advantages. Instead of helping five students become successful, together we can help 10, even 20!
Is it always easy? No. If it was, every body would be doing it. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely. As a grandparent, I want my grandchildren to have the opportunity to be successful and enjoy FFA. I believe that FFA Alumni can be that engine.
We are here to help grow young men and women to be our leaders for tomorrow. I have seen alumni success stories in every state, and I have confidence that we can help you in yours. In my article in New Visions, I asked alumni members for stories they have so others may benefit from the success they achieved. I am extending that same request to you, the teacher. Help us spread the word by sending your positive stories and/or questions to me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let us help you take your chapter to the next level!