By Nina Crutchfield, LPS Specialist, National FFA Organization
Have you really considered that your greatest professional achievements walk out your door every May?
Granted, there are a few that cause us to think to ourselves “Thank goodness they are done.” But for the most part, we invest blood, sweat and tears in some of this country’s best people only to watch them walk off into the sunset at graduation.
Now why is that? Is it because we have never really consider maintaining a connection when we have a batch of new students coming in behind them? Do we get so wrapped in the daily grind that we miss the opportunity to keep our greatest assets engaged with our program? Why do we fail to move them from the realm of a student/FFA member to becoming a supporter and advocate for our program.
We know this happens everywhere because as an organization we have lost track of over 8 million former FFA members. Just take a minute to think of the number of former FFA members you’ve graduated over the years and tally up how many are actively engaged with your program today. It is staggering to think of the loss. If those numbers were reflected in a balance sheet, we would all be in the red.
As an answer to the dilemma moving forward, the National FFA Alumni Association has developed the free, associate membership to help us where we fail. With five years of free FFA Alumni associate membership, this is the chance to maintain contact with our best and brightest. Five years will span most college experiences, most career jumpstarts, and even the start of new families. Since the majority of your students will remain in the community, the associate FFA Alumni membership will increase the likelihood that the people you devote your career to will start to show you a return on your investment.
There are a number of teachers out there who are quite successful at engaging their graduates and we would love to read your tips for doing so. Please check out the [April Making A Difference] articles showcasing the FFA Alumni and associate membership then post your ideas for engaging your graduates on the [NAAE’s Communities of Practice].