National Chapter Awards add new honors

By Beth A. DeHoff

Every FFA member and advisor takes pride in their chapter. Now, they have even more ways to gain recognition of their chapter’s excellence.

FFA is introducing two new national chapter awards for 2012 – the National Outstanding Middle School Chapter Award and the National Model of Excellence Award. These are in addition to the continuing National FFA Star Chapter Awards and the National Model of Innovation Chapter Awards.

With the new middle school awards, chapters move beyond summer judging to center stage at the National FFA Convention. “Instead of naming the top chapter at summer judging, the top five chapters will be selected and invited to national convention,” says Larry Lyder, an FFA education specialist. “All five will go through a presentation and interview, with the Outstanding Middle School being announced on the main convention stage.” Scores from summer judging will not carry forward.

High school chapters that feel they are among the best in the country will now get a chance to compete for that top spot. “Our new National Model of Excellence Award allows us to recognize the top chapter in the nation,” Lyder says. All chapters need to do to be considered for this award is to fill out the national chapter application. “Ten chapters will be identified during summer judging based on the 10 highest scores from the national chapter applications – every chapter that applies will be eligible.”

These top 10 chapters will be National Model of Excellence Award finalists, and each of these chapters receives a plaque and $500 for their school. Each will come to the National FFA Convention, where they will be judged through a presentation/interview process. Scores from summer judging will not carry forward. The top-scoring chapter will receive the National Model of Excellence Award on the main convention stage.

“The purpose of all the National Chapter Awards is to recognize and reward those chapters that have excelled in the development, planning and implementation of activities that support student, chapter and community development,” Lyder says. Unlike the Model of Innovation Awards, which recognizes the top chapter demonstrating innovation in each of the three categories (student, chapter and community), the Model of Excellence Award recognizes the top overall chapter demonstrating excellence in all three categories.

This year, applicants also will use a new application, rubric and score sheet. National Star Chapters recognized as three-star chapters (not one- or two-star chapters) will be recognized on the main convention stage with the Model of Excellence, Model of Innovation and Outstanding Middle School winners.

“This is the only set of awards that recognizes the entire chapter,” says Belinda Chason, superintendent of the National Chapter Award Program Committee. “It recognizes, showcases and rewards chapters who have excelled in student, chapter and community development.”

Even advisors who don’t think their chapter is ready for a national award can reap benefits from completing that national application. “The application is an excellent assessment of the work of the chapter,” Chason says. “It’s an ‘at-a-glance’ recap of the chapter’s activities and can provide school administration a quick overview of the involvement of their FFA members in the school and community.”