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11 tips for a successful proficiency award application

Proficiency judges report that there are three main areas they would remind students to focus on:read the directions, write the application and get proper signatures.

Read.

Read the proficiency descriptions. Make sure you are applying in the correct area. If unsure of the correct area, email proficiency@ffa.org. Also, carefully read the directions in the handbook.

Write.

Top 11 tips for writing the application:

  1. When writing the application, only include information and records that are directly related to the award area you are applying for. It only confuses the judges when you talk about your other projects and enterprises.
  2. Be specific, to the point and direct. Answer the question and only the question.
  3. Be sure to explain how the photos show action related to the proficiency area you are applying in.
  4. Explain how your enterprises and projects related to the proficiency award area are unique and different. Demonstrate how you are responsible for management of your enterprises and how you are involved in the day-to-day operation. If you have an item that is unique or unusual in your program or application, explain it to the judges within your application.
  5. Make sure pages 2 and 3 tell a story. Use questions at the beginning to thoroughly explain your supervised agricultural experience, especially if there are unusual circumstances.
  6. Tell the judges everything that is directly related to your projects and enterprises related to the area you are applying in, even if you think they should know it.
  7. Specifically list how your involvement has affected you and benefited your overall SAE program.
  8. Be creative in writing narratives. “Ever since I was little . . .” is overused and does not set an application apart from the other applications. Use descriptive writing to answer the question and be direct. If you answer the question and still have white space on the paper, that is ok.
  9. Completely explain everything. Write your application as if whoever is reading it has never seen it before. Do not assume the judges know something.
  10. BE HONEST!
  11. Do not include money or hours for the year in which the application is submitted. Records should stop at Dec. 31 of the previous year.

Sign.

Be sure to include all signatures on the application cover page. The signatures are validation for the application. An employer signature must be provided on all placement applications.

Allow your members to write the applications, check them over and submit. It also never hurts to have an additional read by an English teacher and someone who is completely unfamiliar with the student’s SAE. This will help ensure the application reads well during the judging process. For additional questions about proficiencies email proficiency@ffa.org.