The National FFA Organization created the National Teacher Ambassadors for FFA program to provide a crucial link between agricultural education and FFA. Ambassador duties include serving as a resource for states to provide teacher training, peer mentoring and data collecting from teachers on behalf of National FFA.
A pilot phase of the program began in 2016 with the selection of 24 teachers representing urban, suburban and rural schools with teaching experience ranging from one year to more than 15 years. Each year, more teachers applied to be ambassadors, awareness of FFA educational resources increased, and data showed the program was making a difference. Ambassadors rated their experience in the program as a 4.6 out of five and said their greatest impact included providing information and resources to other teachers.
“There are so many resources available through National FFA that I had no idea existed until I became a teacher ambassador. Teachers have been utilizing the resources I shared with them to add to their classes and their programs,” said Jillian Ford of North Carolina when asked about her experience as a first-year ambassador. Hundreds of teachers participate in workshops hosted by ambassadors within their states, and, last year, 97 percent of participants rated ambassador workshops as good or excellent.
A recent gift of $1 million from Herman and Bobbie Wilson will allow the program to move beyond the pilot phase and have an even greater impact on agriculture teachers across the country. More teachers can now participate in the program, so each state and region are represented. The professional development provided by National FFA to the ambassadors will be expanded to include immersion experiences to help teachers increase their industry awareness. Additionally, marketing efforts will be enhanced to reach more teachers with information about the program.
“As we strive to develop the next generation of leaders who will change the world and fill the talent pipeline, we must have teachers who are equipped with the skills and resources necessary to benefit students and FFA members across the country,” said Ambra Tennery, associate director for FFA educational development programs, including the teacher ambassadors. “It is imperative that we are able to grow the program in a way that will broaden the scope of reach and opportunities available.”