FFA connects with local farmers

Feb 17, 2012

It’s no secret that networking is a pivotal step toward a bright career in any industry. With that in mind—and a chance to win some substantial prizes for their FFA chapter—FFA members in 12 states are producing new connections with local farmers at an incredible rate.

Just over a month after the 2012 FFA Chapter Challenge launched, 12,695 people have logged onto FFAChapterChallenge. com to register a vote for one of 809 FFA chapters. The individual FFA chapters are competing for some considerable prizes totaling $300,000—with the chapter receiving the most overall votes receiving an expenses-paid trip to October’s 85th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. The competition is only expected to increase with FFA members going out in force during next week’s National FFA Week ahead of the program closing on Feb. 29.

Sponsored by Monsanto as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, the premise of the 2012 FFA Chapter Challenge is simple; members from local FFA chapters build relationships with local farmers. The opportunity gives FFA members a chance to learn about different aspects of agricultural careers while building community awareness of their FFA chapter. Afterward, the FFA members ask the farmer to vote for their chapter to increase their chance to win.

Rob Cooper, National FFA Foundation executive director, praised the Challenge. “Relationships are central to growing a career in any field, let alone agriculture. We love how this program emphasizes that while also supporting FFA chapters who work the hardest. We’re very grateful of Monsanto’s support of this program and truly believe it will be a great tool to grow tomorrow’s agriculture leaders.”

Randy Kramer of Bird Island, MI, is a one of the farmers who has voted for a local FFA chapter. A former FFA member himself, Kramer still serves on the chapter’s advisory committee.

“FFA had a great impact on my life, especially the parliamentary procedure, which I have used in my board activities from local to state levels,” said Kramer. “We help the advisor and students as needed, and we advocate for keeping agriculture in the classroom and promoting leadership activities.”

Of the 12 states eligible for this expanded second-year program, Missouri (2,287 votes) and Tennessee (2,079) are neck-and-neck for the top state honors. Indiana, Iowa and Texas round out the top five, ahead of Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois, Minnesota, Arkansas, Georgia and Louisiana.

The top 200 FFA chapters who receive the most farmer votes by Feb. 29 will be awarded between $1,000 and $2,500 in FFA credit to be used for chapter supply purchases or registration fees for national FFA leadership conferences. As a sponsor of the program, Monsanto will provide more than $300,000 in incentives. — WLJ