Perspectives: Setting the Stage for a Successful Year

By Larry Lyder, National Chapter Education Specialist

The end of school is near, and it’s time to start thinking about summer and fall activities. Your chapter members want another successful year of fun-filled, educational and beneficial activities, engaging everyone from the hard-to-reach students to the local community. A well-developed Program of Activities (POA) will serve everyone by defining goals and outlining the steps needed to meet those goals. It can also serve as a calendar of events to follow for the upcoming year.

As advisors, a strong POA will keep members focused and could reduce our workload. We won’t have to be the bad guy/gal when they come up with last minute activities that yield low impact on student learning/engagement but consume more of our time. A well written POA also ensures that local FFA activity goals are specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and timely (aka SMART goals).

One way of helping our members create a strong POA is to use the National Chapter Award application as a template. Believe it or not, it can actually be used as a great teaching tool. Have your officers and chairpersons use Form II to direct members’ brainstorming, goal writing, and implementation strategies. Another suggestion is to use the 15 quality standards to create committees that address student, chapter and community development.

The award isn’t intended to drive what happens in the local chapter. It is intended to recognize programs that are successful in all 15 quality standards. If used as a teaching tool, it is natural for the information gathered from the forms to flow easily into the award application. Members will learn to develop budgets and action steps for implementation that can be used each year and create and meet self-imposed deadlines. In addition, once members have their plan outlined, in printed form, execution and evaluation become easier for them and for you.

Since we live in an age of standards, it’s important to note that the POA can also be used as evidence of student learning. Well-completed POA planning forms can be used to illustrate student mastery of learning to work in groups, implementing an effective project plan, creating a plan of action to complete a task based on conceptualized ideas, and demonstrating critical and creative thinking skills while completing a task, just to name a few. These are all standards addressed by the LifeKnowledge and Cluster Skills as outlined in the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Content Standards. What better way to document your efforts to address the soft skills industry wants and the performance skills administrators want? ​​