In 2006, the Assistant Secretary of Vocational and Adult Education Dr. Troy Justesen challenged those attending the National Agricultural Education In-service with a question, “If you consider FFA an integral part of agricultural education, then why do you charge individual members dues?”
To find the answer, National FFA began looking at alternative ways to engage ALL agriculture students in the three-circle model of classroom/laboratory instruction, supervised agricultural experience and FFA, without limiting the organization to dues-paying members and traditional funding sources. Hence, the movement towards an Affiliation Fees Program began.
In November 2007, a task force made up of teachers, teacher educators, state staff and student representatives convened to discuss the Affiliation Fees Program and after much discussion, adopted a proposal to present to the National FFA Board of Directors during the summer meeting of 2008, where it voted to begin a two-year pilot. It was during the January 2010 National Board Meeting that the National FFA Board of Directors approved the 2009 delegate committee recommendation to offer the option to all states as an alternative to traditional membership dues.
Why the Change?
Now that the program is open to all states, educating everyone about the program is top priority. The Affiliation Fees Program fosters the integrated agricultural education model supported by the United States Department of Education. What this means is that ALL students taking an agriculture class would be a member of FFA, thus allowing full access to opportunities in the three-circle model, including FFA programs and resources. This opens the door for students who have misconceptions about FFA, can’t afford to join, or aren’t encouraged at school or home to become involved in the activities available to them.
Engage All Students
Yes, it seems like a simple, bold statement, but it’s really hard to do with the little time and resources available to today’s teacher. That’s where the Affiliation Dues Program can help. The program helps the teacher find the time to engage each student. Benefits include:
- No more taking valuable class time persuading students to join FFA.
- No more collecting individual dues or writing receipts. The program essentially eliminates the handling of money by students, teachers and others involved in process.
- No more adjusting curriculum for those in FFA and those who are not.
- The ability to invite all students to FFA activities.
- The elimination of creating and submitting several rosters. Just process your class roll once or twice a year and be done.
With this additional time, the teacher can now focus on classroom instruction, provide new ways to excite non-traditional members and participate in making a difference in leadership education.
How Do I Pay For It
We all recognize in today’s economy that stretching funding dollars is a sore subject. But aligning your program with the goal Every Student, Every Classroom, Every Day and removing the “club” connotation helps open additional funding streams not used in the past.
A few to consider:
- Schools currently pay fees to other associations for integral activities such as athletics, debate, music and more. By stressing the fact FFA is an integral part of agricultural education, the local school district recognizes the value the program provides and handles the fee.
- Your local FFA alumni or booster club can assist with the cost. Many local alumni chapters would see this as a huge opportunity to support the local program and its students.
- Local supporters can donate fees to ensure agricultural education is strong in the community. There are always local and even regional supporters looking for ways to provide dollars that will impact students in the community.
- A dedicated fundraiser for fees – your ability to provide opportunities and activities for every student will in turn develop students and meet the goals of your program.
- Educational grants – some chapters have applied for and received grants to support leadership education from a variety of sources.
- Civic organizations with funding available for leadership-based youth organizations now become a possibility.
Because the affiliation program focuses on all students in your program, the window of funding sources grows.