By Stefany Deckard, FFA Education Specialist
Successful FFA chapters have one trait in common: They understand the value of a well-planned Program of Activities (POA). Members who find value in service or participation propel the POA into action. The dilemma is helping all members find that value, not just the outstanding students, so that motivation to participate becomes intrinsic and all members enthusiastically engage in chapter events.
There are several things that you can do to help students find personal value in participating and developing a POA. Here are just a few:
- Allow members to identify the activities they want to explore. So often, as advisors, we corral their ideas to fit what we deem doable. On occasion it doesn’t hurt to let them explore alternative activities that appeal to every student. You just might engage more members, even recruit some new ones, if you try a dodge ball tournament or host a Race-for-the-Cure or beauty pageant. It’s not about what we’re comfortable with, it’s about finding what they’re interested in.
- Give officers some time to share with other members what motivates them. You’ve put all that time and effort into training your officers; step back and get out of their way.
- Invite former members and chapter beneficiaries to speak to your members. Let them tell their story of involvement, how the chapter impacted their lives and how members influence their community.
- Examine the impact of an activity if more members participated. One of the best learning tools is evaluation. It’s never a bad idea for current officers to take a look at past activities and discover how and why something failed or succeeded in engaging every member. That analysis will help the chapter create new and improved activities in the future.
- Set up participation incentives that students can “cash in” for prizes at a later date. Whether it’s actually creating an FFA Bucks system like Jim Nave of Chetopa, Kan., or establishing a point system for earning a spot on an end-of-the-year trip to Branson, Mo., providing incentives can increase member participation.
- Remind students of the potential for earning a higher FFA degree. We often forget that the FFA Degree system was originally structured to reward students for high levels of excellence in both their supervised agricultural experience project and in their FFA chapter. Use it accordingly.
- Talk to members one-on-one to discover ways to get them more involved. Often we don’t know what members are interested in doing because we don’t ask. Take some time to find out what motivates them and work with officers and committee chairs to develop activities around those interests.
- Use a LifeKnowledge lesson plan devoted to this topic.
Try these lessons:
HS.121: How does FFA apply to my life?
HS.68: Defining roles on teams
AHS.45: Leading program of activities development
It’s not an easy task getting 100 percent participation from your members. Just remember that becoming more interested in them as individuals will help them discover the value they have to contribute to the group.