By Lucy Whitehead, National FFA Alumni Association
With the increased diversity of agricultural education programs, it is becoming more difficult for advisors/teachers to keep up with all the additional activities. Former FFA members and interested adults are a natural resource of service and support. With the FFA advisor coordinating activities, FFA Alumni can provide hands, hearts and minds for advocacy, securing resources and student development.
Advocacy is an ongoing, organized system of recruiting, educating and motivating members to use their influence at the local level. An FFA Alumni affiliate can unify the local community to support agricultural education and FFA activities and provide valuable assistance to agriculture advisors. This may include building relationships with legislators, school board members, school administrators, local government leaders, business leaders and other community leaders. These relationships allow FFA Alumni to inform and communicate the importance of agricultural education.
Advocacy efforts help as schools face increasingly tight budgets. FFA Alumni are in a unique position to secure resources that the local agricultural education program and FFA chapter need. Affiliates across the country have been instrumental in ensuring their chapter/program has the equipment, funds or other assets needed to impact student learning and growth. From across the country, examples range from purchasing materials for a new greenhouse to paying a portion of a teacher’s salary to keep the program from closing.
If shop or classroom materials are needed, perhaps there is an opportunity for FFA Alumni to develop a relationship with a local distributor who would donate the items or provide them at a reduced cost. The opportunity exists to work with supporters in the community to consider leaving a gift to the local agricultural education program in their will. These types of investments will have long lasting impact on future generations of students and provides people with an opportunity to share their assets upon their passing. We challenge FFA Alumni affiliates everywhere to creatively consider how they can provide needed resources. Doing so allows the advisor to do what they are there for – teach!
FFA Alumni are also providing a bridge for continuing members after graduation. The FFA Alumni Associate Member program offers five years of free membership to all graduating FFA members in the National FFA Alumni Association. As an advisor, that means you can keep former FFA members – the most valuable asset many chapters have – connected at all levels to an organization they love.
FFA Alumni can play a unique role in advocating, securing resources and continuing growth and development of FFA members after high school. But you have to have FFA Alumni members before any of those opportunities can occur.