FFA Alumni 40th Anniversary

40 years of Believing, Supporting and Sustaining FFA and Ag Education! FFA Alumni it’s your turn to celebrate and enjoy some of the fruits of your labor by hosting a membership cookout, applying for a national award or having an FFA/FFA Alumni mixer.

Help National FFA Alumni Celebrate by Attending the following events:


Western Region

Affiliate Name: Vista Ridge FFA Alumni
Affiliate City & State: Cedar Park, TX
Event Name: Cow Patty Classic Benefit Bike Ride

Event Description & Resulting Impact

Cow Patty Classic Benefit Bike Ride

When the Vista Ridge FFA Alumni got together to brainstorm for new funding ideas, it became obvious that the usual avenues of fund raising were not going to be as effective as they once were. With a growing school district that went from two to five high schools within 10 years, the local community was tapped. We made the decision that we needed to find an avenue to raise funds while providing a service to a specific group of people. Being a suburb of Austin, TX, where cyclists abound (think Lance Armstrong and the Tour de Cure), we determined they were the perfect group to assist. We started the Cow Patty Classic Benefit Bike Ride in 2008 and had around forty cyclists respond. Those forty, however, loved our ride and the word spread. By our Fourth Annual ride in the Spring of 2011, we will have over 250 cyclists participating and a handful of select sponsors, raising over $6,000 for the youth of the Vista Ridge FFA.

All proceeds for this ride go to benefit the Vista Ridge FFA Chapter members through scholarship, advisor support, student development, livestock support, and community involvement. The event has been so successful for us that we have added a sister ride, the Half Calf, in the Fall. And the number one reason cyclists give for coming back to participate in our rides year after year? The volunteers are so friendly, helpful, and excited to be there. These rides not only allow us to raise funds and provide a service to our community, it allows us an opportunity to generate community awareness of the FFA to those who may not be aware that the FFA, as the saying goes, is not just about sows, cows and plows. And we couldn't be more proud to show off the excellent youth we're helping shape for the future.

Outstanding FFA Alumni Member: Cindy Ettestad
Affiliate City & State: Molalla FFA Alumni - Molalla, Oregon

Advocacy in Action

Cindy Ettestad, Oregon FFA Alumni Secretary, provides an Ag in the Classroom workshop at the 2011 Oregon Ag Teachers' Summer Conference.

Oregon FFA Alumni member Cindy Ettestad is well known not only in her state, but across the country as an exuberant advocate for agriculture education and FFA. Cindy has been involved with FFA Alumni at all levels supporting her local Molalla agriculture education program; serving on the Oregon FFA Alumni Council, currently as state secretary; and serving as president of the National FFA Alumni Association in 2002.

In 2011, Cindy stepped up as co-chair of the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) Foundation. The mission of AITC is “To help children grow in their knowledge of agriculture, the environment and national resources…”. As a strong advocate for agriculture education, Cindy identified that AITC was an opportunity to not only educate children, but to interact with agriculture educators across the state. As a member of the Oregon FFA Alumni Council, she understood the value in building additional connections between FFA Alumni and Oregon’s agricultural educators. In her new role as co-chair of AITC, Cindy attends teacher conferences to encourage Ag in the Classroom as an FFA chapter project and for inclusion in their own classroom curriculum. While attending these events she continues to promote the benefits of having a local FFA Alumni affiliate and offers the assistance of the state FFA Alumni Council to each individual teacher. Due to her fun-loving and inclusive spirit, Cindy encourages her fellow Alumni to become involved with Ag in the Classroom projects, further strengthening the connection and advocacy opportunities.

“These types of partnerships between FFA Alumni and other agricultural and educational organizations allow for joint advocacy and increased awareness of both organizations. Cindy Ettestad is to be commended for her service to these two organizations and for identifying an opportunity that would be mutually beneficial to both groups,” said Frank Saldana, National FFA Alumni Executive Director.

Affiliate Name: Idaho FFA Alumni Association

Idaho FFA Alumni join teachers and students to raise funds for the Idaho FFA Foundation

FFA Alumni member Sid Freeman and his wife Pam had a 1940 Farmall H tractor just sitting and rusting away before Sid had an epiphany. He came up with the idea to donate the old tractor to the Idaho FFA Foundation, procure donations from area agricultural businesses to get it restored, and then use it in a statewide raffle to benefit Idaho FFA members. He worked with Laura Wilder, Executive Director of the Idaho FFA Foundation, to put the plan in motion.

The goal was set to raise $50,000, and Sid made stipulations that the money raised would be allocated as follows: 60% for $1000 scholarships for FFA seniors to go on to post-secondary education, 25% for Idaho FFA Foundation programs, 5% to the chapter designated on the winning ticket, and 10% for program expenses. Each chapter was asked to sell 60 tickets at $10 each to reach the goal.

Wes Freeman a former member of the Middleton, Idaho FFA chapter delivers the tractor to the Canyon County Fair in Caldwell for its debut appearance at the Canyon County Farm Bureau's "Ag Country" tent during the last week in July.

The program began last February with National FFA week and ended at the Idaho State FFA Leadership Conference in April, raising $23,600.

“We were short of our goal monetarily, but more importantly we received the promise of four more donated tractors to continue the project,” Sid said. “It was extremely gratifying to see people and businesses from all across the state step up and support FFA and the agriculture education curriculum in the manner that they have. I believe FFA is the most important program in our high schools today, which makes it an easy sell for others to get involved.”

Although the project was considered very successful in its first year, Freeman and Wilder recognized the need to involve more people to help move the tractor around the state into local communities. They saw firsthand how much more excitement for the project was generated along with increased ticket sales when people could see the tractor in person. Over the same period of time the Idaho FFA Alumni Association was in the process of reactivating a state association and reached out to FFA leadership to offer assistance.

“The Idaho FFA Foundation saw an opportunity to involve the Alumni membership in the project to gain help and support in local communities as well as help in transporting the tractor around the state.” Wilder said. Sid spoke at the Idaho Alumni reorganization meeting in April and invited the Alumni to help with the project. Understanding the value of this program in support of the FFA Foundation, the newly formed Idaho FFA Alumni board quickly committed to assisting with the project.

This year’s raffle tractor is a 1952 model B John Deere with a 55 gallon PTO drive sprayer. It started making the county and state fair circuit in July, and with seven months to get all of the tickets sold it’s sure to be another great success. Freeman is very quick to point out that none of this would have been possible if it were not for several Idaho FFA Alumni, agriculture teachers, and members throughout the state that also stepped in to help.

Interested in purchasing a ticket for this year’s restored tractor raffle? Tickets are $10 and can be obtained by contacting any local Idaho FFA chapter, or the Idaho FFA Foundation at 208-861-2467 or The winner will be drawn at the 2012 Idaho State Leadership Conference on April 13, 2012. Visit for more information!

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Eastern Region

Affiliate Name: Southern Illinois FFA Alumni
Affiliate Location: At-Large in Southern Illinois in cooperation with the Jackson County Farm Bureau in Murphysboro and SIU-C CFFA/PAS in Carbondale, IL

About Us

We are a unique affiliate because unlike many traditional affiliates we don’t have a specific high school that we are advocating for; instead we are community-supported and hope to help develop and expand comprehensive agriculture programs and the FFA throughout Southern Illinois. We also have a distinctive start as we began as a project of the Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Collegiate FFA/Postsecondary Agriculture Students. In the 2010-2011 school year, all 90+ of the CFFA/PAS members at SIUC were either member of Southern Illinois FFA Alumni or another FFA Alumni affiliate. At the time of chartering, Southern Illinois FFA Alumni had 78 members, most of which are students at SIUC. “This is a great venture into new territory as we try something new. We identified the need to keep students involved from 4-H to FFA to CFFA/PAS and then into FFA Alumni and we hope that we can help bridge any gaps,” said Ben Arteman, secretary of the Southern Illinois FFA Alumni.

We hope to become an asset towards starting quality agriculture programs in underserved communities in the southern third of Illinois. Currently at least 25 high schools (many of which are in rural areas) in Southern Illinois do not reap the benefits of a comprehensive agriculture program with the FFA, FFA Alumni, SAE and classroom instruction. We are attempting to use our initial base with the CFFA/PAS members to reach out to others community leaders and work together to provide the opportunity of FFA and agriculture to all students in Southern Illinois. “I don’t want the expense of starting an agriculture program or costs associated with being in FFA to keep any student from being able to experience all of the opportunities that I had available to me in high school,” said Thomas Marten, president of the Southern Illinois FFA Alumni.

Affiliate Name: Indiana FFA Alumni Association

Regrouping & Re-energizing

Indiana FFA Alumni leaders Marty Matlock (left) and Justin McCain (right) enjoy a light hearted moment at a recent meeting to plan for an Alumni display at the Indiana State Fair.

Originally chartered in 1972, the Indiana FFA Alumni Association had fallen into inactivity over the years. There had periodically been talk of reorganizing, however the state lacked Alumni leadership to lead the way. 39 years later, former Indiana FFA member Justin McCain has started rallying interested parties to re-launch the association to support Indiana FFA and chapters. With assistance from National FFA Alumni staff and Illinois’ Jim McCray (National FFA Alumni Eastern Region Representative) all interested parties (state FFA staff, foundation, teacher leaders, teacher educators, state FFA officers, and others) were brought together to discuss how the reorganizing would take place.

The Indiana FFA Foundation generously provided startup funds to assist the FFA Alumni. Since then a core leadership committee has formed to grow awareness of FFA Alumni within Indiana, educate and support agricultural teachers and recruit members. Since the spring, they’ve developed a mission and values, updated the state constitution and bylaws, attended the state FFA convention to start building awareness, presented workshops at the state agriculture education teacher meeting and will have a display at the FFA pavilion during the Indiana State Fair.

"This association is dedicated to providing support for Indiana FFA and agricultural education through advocacy, financial support, volunteerism, and communication,” said Justin McCain. “We hope to expand FFA Alumni throughout the state and charter many more local affiliates. By having this state association we can and will bridge the gap between the national and local level and provide a more local resource for chartered affiliates within Indiana."

Affiliate Name: Pennsylvania FFA Alumni Association

Pennsylvania FFA members prepare to slip on their brand new FFA jackets at the State FFA MidWinter Convention. Each of these students are first year FFA members and submitted an essay to be selected to receive a jacket from the Pennsylvania FFA Alumni.

The Freshman Jacket Scholarship Program is kicking off its seventh year in Pennsylvania. This initiative has provided 1,000 FFA members with their first official jacket and a jumpstart to their career. Those eligible to apply include 7th-10th graders in their first year of FFA membership who submit a complete application, which features a 500-word essay on "What the FFA Jacket Means to Me". Every chapter that submits applications is eligible to receive at least one jacket and the remaining are decided by an evaluation panel of non-agricultural educators that are members of local FFA Alumni Affiliates. From there, recipients are notified by letter and email and all jackets are presented at the State FFA MidWinter Convention in January--an emotional and moving display of blue and gold pride!

Throughout the past six years, the majority of donations for jackets have been provided by individual sponsors and alumni members. However, our biggest corporate contributors have been the County Farm Bureau boards, who have donated approximately one third of the jackets awarded. Additional funds are allocated from the State FFA Alumni Association budget each year and there is a state-wide Community Night held at Hoss's Steak and Sea Houses across Pennsylvania where 15 to 20 percent of the proceeds are returned to the State FFA Alumni for this scholarship program.

This program is that which we are most proud of in Pennsylvania. We work hard to build the future for FFA members across the state and believe very passionately in supporting them. "Forever Blue!" says Pennsylvania FFA Alumni leaders.

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Central Region

Affiliate Name: Rugby FFA Alumni
Affiliate Location: Rugby, North Dakota
Serving: Rugby FFA Chapter
Event Name: Rugby FFA Supper & Labor Auction

Event Description & Resulting Impact

"Working together with my son (Rugby FFA Alumni member Lynne Ostrem and FFA member Michael Ostrem) we were able to set up a supper and auction for Oct. 2, 2010." Michael along with several other Rugby FFA members volunteered their time for a labor auction with the proceeds going to the Rugby FFA Alumni Affiliate. The FFA members also volunteered their time to help serve the supper and helped with the auction alongside the Alumni members. This was a very successful fundraiser for the Alumni affiliate. The Alumni affiliate has been able to help with some of the Chapter expenses for the Leadership Conference that was held this January.

Lynn commented, " I was very fortunate to be able to go to National Convention with the Rugby FFA Chapter and take in some of the National FFA Alumni meetings and events. I was able to watch Michael walk across the stage at the national convention and accept the 3 Star Chapter Award. Rugby FFA was the only chapter from North Dakota that received this honor."

Outstanding State Affiliate: Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association
Event Name: Wisconsin FFA Convention - Welcome of Retiring State FFA Officers into the Alumni

Creating a seamless transition from FFA member to FFA Alumni

Ethan Giebel, the 2010-2011 Wisconsin State FFA Vice President (2011 – 2012 State FFA President), slips into his new FFA Alumni blazer presented by the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association after retiring as a state FFA officer.

On June 15, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin, eleven Wisconsin State FFA Officers wrapped up their year of service to agricultural students and the Wisconsin FFA Association at the 82nd Wisconsin FFA Convention. The year was themed “Powered by Potential” and as these eleven officers prepared to take off their blue corduroy jackets, the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association was waiting to welcome them with open arms. For roughly 20 years, Wisconsin FFA State Officer Teams have had the goal of being a 100% Lifetime State and National FFA Alumni members. The Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association has been helping each year’s team to make that possible by providing scholarships to help defray the expense. In 2011, the Wisconsin FFA Alumni were on stage to help each retiring officer slide into their new FFA Alumni blazer as a symbol of their transition from student member to FFA Alumni volunteer, supporter, mentor and leader.

“It was an amazing feeling to watch the excitement of each of the state officers while they put on their blazers,” said Wisconsin FFA Alumni Executive Director Regina Oldendorf. “When the entire team stood on stage with their blazers on the message was clear: life in FFA is not over after graduation. You may continue to serve, learn and be an advocate for agriculture once you hang up your FFA jacket. I was honored to be a part of the whole experience.”

Membership in the Wisconsin FFA Alumni is a natural transition for student members as they leave active FFA membership. The Wisconsin FFA Alumni recognizes the valuable impact past state FFA officers can make in FFA Alumni and encourage them to become involved in their local affiliates and with state activities. Because state officers are well-regarded leaders, the transition from state officer into active alumni members is a great way to encourage active student members to do the same. Wisconsin has even had past state officers transition from state officer directly to state FFA Alumni council representatives, producing benefits for the association by bringing in a young perspective toward advocacy.

Affiliate Name: Nebraska FFA Alumni Association

Nebraska FFA Alumni conducts “Raise the Roof” project at the Leadership Center

Nebraska FFA Alumni members, FFA Chapter members, and FFA Chapter Advisors from across the state gathered at the Leadership Center in Aurora, Nebraska, with one goal in mind – replacing the roofing shingles on the three cabins at the Leadership Center.

Nebraska FFA Alumni and FFA members met on three separate weekends in Aurora, Nebraska to re-shingle three cabins at the FFA Leadership Center.

The Leadership Center is the site of the Nebraska FFA COLT (Chapter Officer Leadership Training) conference and PEAK (Pursuing Excellence Achievement and Knowledge) conference as well as many FFA district contests, retreats and other FFA and Agricultural Education events. The Center is operated by the Nebraska Vocational Agriculture Foundation (NVAF).

The “Raise the Roof” project was the brain child of past Nebraska FFA Alumni Council President Les Hornung. Hornung’s dream was to bring FFA supporters together along with the resources of the Alumni to accomplish something that would benefit as many FFA members as possible. Since the Leadership Center is used for so many FFA activities and the three cabin roofs were in need of repair, it seemed like the perfect project to fulfill his dream. The project began in 2009 and was completed in August 2010.

On three separate weekends, the group assembled on Friday evening to begin tearing off the old shingles. They then made necessary repairs, and applied the roofing paper. Following the evening meal, the group enjoyed water volleyball and fellowship before retiring for the evening in the cabins. After a hearty breakfast furnished by the Leadership Center, the roofs were shingled before lunchtime on Saturday. Lunch was provided and the volunteer roofers returned to their homes.

Donations for this major undertaking were provided by Alumni Affiliates and FFA Chapters from across the state along with private donations. The Nebraska FFA Alumni Council thanks all of the financial donors who have helped to fund this project and to the 50-plus volunteers who helped with the labor on the project. The also thank the Leadership Center for their meals, cooperation, patience, and hospitality.

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Southern Region

Affiliate Name: Orange County FFA Alumni
Affiliate Location: Orlando, Florida
Serving the following FFA Chapters: Ocoee Middle, Corner Lake Middle, Wolf Lake Middle, Wekiva Middle, Apopka High, Dr Phillips High, Evan High, Wekiva High, Ocoee High, Colonial High, East River High, Timber Creek High, University High, and West Orange High
Event Name: 2010 Orange County FFA Alumni Kickball Tournament

Event Description

All FFA Chapters of Orange County were invited to play kickball against each other and the winners from each division took on the Alumni Annihilator team. The middle schools and high schools were divided up into brackets and then winners of each bracket advanced to the next round. Alumni served as referees, scorekeepers, cheerleaders and sold concessions. The event served two purposes. The first was as a fund raiser to raise money for future events the FFA Alumni would host along with funds for two scholarships that we plan to award to deserving seniors. The second and most important was to bring all the FFA chapters together in an environment outside of the classroom to have a little friendly competition while getting to know each other on a different level and have fun. East River High School won the high school division and Ocoee Middle won for the middle schools. Both the high school and middle school beat our Alumni team, but the Alumni made it a lot of fun by acting silly to show the kids is it ok to let your hair down and get a little crazy while having good sportsmanship when losing.

Resulting Impact of Event: As a result our middle school and high school chapters got to know each other a little better while participating in a fun activity. It also gave the chapter members, advisors and parents a chance to meet the Alumni and get a better idea of what we are all about and the support we offer them.

Affiliate Name: Toombs County FFA Alumni & Toombs County Young Farmers
Affiliate Location: Lyons, GA

Event Description & Resulting Impact

FFA Advisor Mark Montfort (kneeling front right) approached the local FFA Alumni for assistance when the school was facing budget cuts that would have eliminated his extended day/year contract to work with students over the summer months.

In early April 2010, the Toombs County FFA Alumni was approached by Toombs County High School FFA advisor Mark Montfort. He had been told by the district superintendent that the extended day/year contract for Mr. Montfort and Young Farmer teacher, Joey Montford would be deleted from the budget for the following year due to budget restraints facing the school district. This cut would mean that the teachers would not be paid for any summer activities, likely resulting in several cuts to chapter programs. Typical events that these teachers did during extended day/year were: Supervised Agricultural Experience programs, preparations for fair, upkeep and teaching opportunities in the FFA garden, FFA camp, chapter officer retreat, fundraising activities and work with the farmers in the community.

For a school with a large agricultural education program, this became a grave concern for how these students would be impacted as well as the financial concerns the teachers now faced. The problem was brought to the April meeting of the FFA Alumni where the teachers advised that the school was willing to pay for half of the extended day/year contract for the FFA advisor, and 80/20 on the Young Farmers teacher extended day/year. The chapter’s FFA Alumni had approximately $1,000 in total funds at that time. Despite the obvious challenge, the FFA Alumni president stressed at the meeting that this was the time to support the entire program and upon much discussion, the FFA Alumni committed to the largest project in affiliate history.

The challenge proved to be the perfect opportunity to partner with the Young Farmer organization to support agriculture education in Toombs County. FFA Alumni sent a group of affiliate members to the next Young Farmer meeting and presented the dilemma to them. After much discussion, the Young Farmers volunteered to pay $5,000 towards the goal.

In order to raise money for the teachers’ salaries, FFA Alumni conducted a wildlife dinner in September, a lawn and garden expo in March and solicited donations from local supporters. Additionally, the Young Farmers partnered with them to obtain the funds needed. Together, they eventually raised $18,000 in order to keep the extended day/year program for the students and teachers.

As a result, the Toombs County FFA Alumni has seen increased cooperation between the two organizations, more support from the community and have developed lasting relationships with other civic organizations who rallied to help support these teachers in a time of need.

Affiliate Name: Bayou Area FFA Alumni, Louisiana

Newly formed FFA Alumni unites supporters from 7 FFA chapters

The Bayou Area FFA Alumni was created in 2010 with the purpose of uniting the rural area of Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, as one support group to serve all the FFA chapters in their parish. After only a few months, one of the newest affiliates in Louisiana was supporting five middle schools and two high schools in their area. This united effort has led to a continual increase of involvement from parents, advisors and other supporters of agriculture education in the region.

FFA members, FFA Alumni and community supporters attend the 2011 Bayou Area FFA Alumni pig roast fundraiser.

The main role of the parish-wide alumni was to help support members with expenses they may have while competing in various FFA events throughout the year. With the support and leadership of the newly formed council, they quickly got to work and recruited over 35 members within only a few months forming a network of support for their students. During the spring of 2011 the alumni had several fundraising events including a barn dance for local teenagers and a pig roast at the end of livestock season.

Parents, alumni members and supporters donated items for a large raffle during the roast which turned out to be a great success. One of the incentives used to help raise attendance at the event was a competition between the schools to see who could bring the most supporters to the function. Amazingly enough, one of the middle schools, Lockport Middle, won the award. The pig roast was an eventful day with horseshoes, food, music and dancing and brought in a great deal of revenue for the Bayou Area FFA Alumni to support more functions.

As one of Louisiana’s newest combined alumni affiliates, they are spreading the word of support and providing a united voice for agriculture education in Lafourche Parish as well as south Louisiana.

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