By Chris Bacchus, Arkansas Agricultural Educator and Program Manager
In a school year packed with competitions, practices, leadership conferences, conventions and--don’t forget--lesson plans, why should an advisor make the time to plan National FFA Week activities? This is a question I have heard numerous times, even one that I have asked myself as an advisor. My response to myself and my advice to others is always be the same…because it is the one opportunity we have throughout the year to involve every member, every student, our local school and our community in activities that promote and excite them about FFA.
As a teacher, I have facilitated a variety of National FFA Week activities throughout the years and I always draw the following conclusion: The activities done at the local level, with all students, are the most successful ones in energizing members and sharing our mission with the school district and community. Simple events such as FFA Bingo, FFA Jeopardy, and FFA Relay Races mixed in with some team challenges and fun activities will reinforce the FFA knowledge that we want the students to have and excite them through friendly competition. It is this excitement and energy that always carried the members throughout the rest of the year with a renewed enthusiasm and passion for FFA that sometimes can start to dwindle in the spring semester.
National FFA Week also gives the local chapter a perfect stage to spotlight FFA activities in the local school and community. It is our window of time to showcase what we have done as a chapter since FFA week the previous year. Planning activities such as a teacher career development event challenge, parliamentary procedure demonstrations and even providing breakfast to the faculty or community in Official Dress gives them a glimpse of the leadership and career skills that our members are working toward in our program. It also helps build those relationships students need to be successful the rest of the year.
The key to a successful FFA week must be student involvement. If we want to energize and excite our FFA members, and truly spotlight our chapter to the community, the members must be engaged. Chapter members need to be involved in the planning and conducting of activities; after all, it is student engagement that we are trying to spotlight. National FFA Week is a perfect opportunity to engage ALL members in the chapter, even those who can’t afford to travel to competitions and conferences or can’t afford to miss the class time in other subject areas for trips. FFA Week is where those members can find their passion for FFA.
As we approach another National FFA Week, I challenge every advisor to think beyond the extra work, hours and resources necessary for activities. Truly work with your members to develop a week filled with fun and meaningful activities that will not only excite everyone but will also tell the chapter’s story to their school and community.