How can a social media campaign help your agricultural education and FFA program? “The CONNECT initiative can strengthen a program’s current support network, the FFA alumni,” says Lucy Whitehead, program manager for the National FFA Alumni Association. “CONNECT will literally connect former members and supporters with their local chapter, and that will allow for more scholarships, more mentors, more judges and more ideas to strengthen and propel the local chapter forward.”
“I don’t think anything will be a bigger game changer than this initiative,” says Mark Timm, chairperson of the National FFA Foundation individual giving council and a former FFA national president. “If advisors and members and states take this seriously and make the effort to connect former members, parents and supporters to this campaign, it can give more than 10 million people a reason to connect back to FFA, an organization they loved. The benefit is to local chapters and the states, which can use these connections to mobilize awareness, support and volunteers.”
Imagine starting a new chapter, or joining a school with a small alumni group, and being able to tap into the FFA CONNECT database to find 20 alumni willing to get involved. Imagine needing help with a project and finding a list of 10 people willing to volunteer. “Do you know why most alumni aren’t judging? It’s because they haven’t been asked!” Timm says. “Somewhere along the line we’ve lost track of them, and they’ve lost track of us. This campaign can change that.”
“The CONNECT initiative is a great opportunity for former members to continue to live Forever Blue, for current members to garner support for their program, for ag education and FFA to build its advocacy base and ensure that FFA will provide opportunities for many generations to come,” Whitehead says. She adds that the CONNECT initiative, when promoted locally, can provide under-resourced, overworked teachers with support of new volunteers’ time, talents and resources, while providing students with a broadened base of talented professionals to mentor them and unlock the doors to new opportunities.
“States and chapters are struggling to stay viable with funding cuts, and what would former members and families do if they find out their FFA program is struggling to make it?” Timm says. “This can change the face and landscape of the organization forever by mobilizing millions of former members, supporters and believers in FFA and ag education. I think local chapters can see things that have never been possible before with the time, talent and resources we can pull together through CONNECT. It absolutely will secure the future of the organization.”