Texas A&M students revive their Collegiate FFA chapter

By Cailee Gilbreath

Texas A&M University students have never stopped believing in the impact the university has on agriculture. Aggies strive for success in everything they do, and the university’s newly re-established Collegiate FFA chapter was just that: Successful.

The chapter offers students many opportunities: professional development, networking, travel and leadership development.

Texas A&M was one of the first charter chapters Collegiate FFA in 1931; however, it went through structural changes that resulted in the development of the Agricultural Leadership Society, which disbanded in 1994.

A group of students with passion for agriculture and FFA was hand-picked last November to lay the foundation to re-establish a collegiate chapter. The group consisted of both graduate and undergraduate students, who were recommended by professors within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to form a diverse Collegiate FFA committee.

Committee members took a 3,000-mile trip to the 2011 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. The group networked with other collegiate chapters and attended networking workshops. “We could not have been so successful with our chapter without the help and opinions of other [collegiate] chapters,” said Shiloh Perry, treasurer of Texas A&M Collegiate FFA.

After the convention, the group began its two-year plan to bring Collegiate FFA back to Texas A&M. The plan consisted of collecting stakeholders’ opinions, recruitment, marketing and publicity, implementation and a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.

A survey was given to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students, and it impacted the committee’s decision about the organization’s direction. The students were asked to provide their thoughts about re-establishing a Collegiate FFA chapter, and the results indicated the re-establishment would be beneficial and accepted. “The survey gave us direction when creating the constitution,” Perry said.

The next step was bringing Collegiate FFA to the students. The committee created sections for recruitment and retention; policy; and outreach, marketing and public relations.

The first re-established collegiate meeting at Texas A&M had a great attendance on March 29. Dr. Chris Skaggs, associate dean for student development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M, spoke to the group about his excitement and anticipation to have Collegiate FFA on campus again.

“The college is excited about the leadership opportunities and student recruitment efforts provided by Collegiate FFA,” Skaggs said. “We look forward to working with this vibrant organization in the future.”

The committee then organized an application and election process to choose the first officer team. The team has a unique structure, in which each student classification has two representatives.

The new officer team has been working to put together a plan of action for the 2012-2013 school year. They hope to keep the enthusiasm and spirit of the re-establishing committee and keep the collegiate chapter growing. The chapter is anticipating an exciting fall semester, adding the incoming freshman class to the more than 75 members recruited during the spring 2012 semester. The chapter will participate in activities such as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences tailgate in September, organizing a city-wide Battle of Bands in October, a Harvest Ball in November and many service projects.

To learn more about starting a chapter at your college/university, contact Lindsay Calhoun, lcalhoun@ffa.org.

Cailee Gilbreath is a Collegiate FFA member and Agricultural Communications student at Texas A&M University.