All over the world are 8 to 9 million people who were once members of FFA. Millions more have had a child, a sibling, or a friend involved in FFA, or lived in a community touched by FFA service projects. From now until the end of this year, FFA is on a mission to find them.
Why? “Our hope is that when our alumni find us, they can share their experiences and re-engage with FFA, and some of them will find the passion they had in school and become active with their local programs,” says Rob Cooper, executive director of the National FFA Foundation. “We hope they can bring their skills and talents and resources back to the community where they live today and support quality agricultural education in their own schools and community.”
The CONNECT campaign began Sept. 20 and continues through Dec. 30. Its goal is to reconnect with the 8 - 9 million former FFA members and other supporters through an online platform at www.ffa.org/connect, where they register and share their memories. By registering and encouraging others to registers, these FFA alumni qualify for prizes and have the opportunity to get involved in many ways, including by volunteering with their local chapter.
“CONNECT is about building a unified voice of advocacy for FFA, agriculture education, and the agricultural industry,” says Will Fett, assistant director of individual and major gifts for the National FFA Foundation. “As people self-identify at the site, we hope to hear what their interests might be – volunteering, advocating, awareness, donating – so that we can help facilitate those interests and build a strong future for FFA and agricultural education at the local, state and national levels.”
The online CONNECT experience is built around the FFA pillars of classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experiences and recognition, Cooper says. “We’re asking people to go to the website, register and tell us a little about themselves – what are their memories of their FFA experiences? We want to hear about their experiences – and recognize them by sharing their stories on the website and registering them for a variety of prizes.”
Teachers are key parts of the CONNECT campaign in that they can encourage their students, alumni and supporters to register and spread the word, helping to build a base for their local needs. “Connect is about building a larger group for advocacy and support of FFA programs at all levels. As people self-identify and become re-engaged, it will mean a larger local alumni group, a larger support base, and vocalized validation for the need for agriculture education and youth leadership development,” Fett says. “Seeing the success of former students in agriculture, their community and other industries showcases the importance of what teachers do on a daily basis.”
You and your students can get involved in the CONNECT campaign by registering on the site and sharing the site with friends, alumni and supporters, encouraging them to register as well. Local chapters can even host their own CONNECT challenges and contests. Each chapter should receive a poster and cards to share with students, who can register for five student-only prizes. Learn more at www.ffa.org/connect.