Allison Burns has just begun her FFA career. Last week, the North Miami County sophomore became part of history when she received her official FFA blue jacket through the Give the Gift of Blue program.
More than 50 percent of FFA members do not have FFA blue jackets, which are worn as part of FFA Official Dress at the local level and for state and national conventions, competitions and special events. As a result, many often borrow jackets from fellow or past members. In 2014, the National FFA Organization began a program, Give the Gift of Blue, providing the funding for FFA members who might not be able to afford their own jacket. Funded by individual donors and corporate sponsors, Give the Gift of Blue makes it possible to gift jackets to FFA members.
“The blue corduroy represents so much for our members – a sense of belonging, a sense of pride, a sense of commitment,” said Molly Ball, president of the National FFA Foundation. “Through this program, we are able to provide that feeling to more of our members. Not only is it an honor to provide the jackets to our members, but many of our supporters feel that same pride when they give back to the program. By donating to Give the Gift of Blue, they continue the legacy of the blue jacket.”
Burns was gifted her FFA jacket on Wednesday of National FFA Week. It was the 10,000th jacket presented through this program. Jim Wildermuth, the advisor of North Miami FFA, nominated Burns for the jacket. He mentioned that Burns is a newly active chapter member, and she has decided that FFA is an organization that will allow her to expand her horizons and experience growth. Burns currently participates in FFA contests, helps with community events and is active in the classroom.
“Allison is eager to learn and use her knowledge to help others,” Wildermuth said. “Being able to wear a jacket with her own name on it and represent her chapter will give Allison a great sense of pride.”
“I am very thankful for the generous donation from the sponsors and Give the Gift of Blue program that sponsored my jacket,” Burns said. “Having this jacket helps me further my journey into FFA and gives me more opportunities.”
Currently, only four out of 10 FFA members own a jacket. FFA is striving to increase that to five out of 10. Through 2019, the top states that have received jackets include California, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, Oregon and North Carolina. There have been 148 jackets awarded in the state of Indiana. If FFA members want to apply for the jacket, they can visit FFA.org and write a short essay on what owning an FFA jacket would mean to them. In addition, members can also be nominated for the jacket, as was the case for Burns.
For more information on the program, visit FFA.org.