Students from across the county are wrapping up another successful FFA Week full of sharing the importance of agriculture and their passion for the organization by hosting community wide events helping others.
Chapters planned activities to raise awareness about the role the National FFA Organization plays in the development of the agriculture industry’s future leaders and the importance of agricultural education.
The week-long tradition started in 1948. Each year, National FFA Week runs Saturday to Saturday, encompassing President George Washington’s Feb. 22 birthday in recognition of Washington’s legacy as an agriculturist and farmer.
This year’s National FFA Week is sponsored by Tractor Supply Co. Through Sunday, participating Tractor Supply Co. stores encourage customers to donate $1 at checkout to support FFA. Donations will fund $1,000 scholarships for FFA members while 10 percent will support state FFA association programs. Last year, Tractor Supply raised more than $362,000 in 45 states to provide 284 scholarships for FFA members to use for college.
Don and Mira Ball, who co-founded Lexington, KY. based custom home-building company Ball Homes more than 50 years ago, kicked off 2014 National FFA Week by inviting some National FFA and Kentucky FFA officers to their home to share details about an endowment they created to support the National FFA Organization’s Give the Gift of Blue campaign.
The campaign relies on financial contributions to the National FFA Foundation used to provide a new, official FFA corduroy jacket to members who can’t afford one. The Balls created a $500,000 endowment that will award up to 400 free FFA jackets each year to qualified members.
“If it wasn’t for FFA, I wouldn’t have made it out of my driveway,” Don said. “I’m proud that I have been able to give back to my community in ways I would have never imagined.”
Don Ball grew up in western Kentucky and was a local and regional FFA officer. The jacket he wore was handed down to him so backing the Give the Gift of Blue campaign is especially meaningful to him. He and his wife started Ball Homes, which has flourished and allowed the couple to give back to a host of community organizations and endeavors, including FFA.
He believes that the experiences and values instilled in him through his involvement in FFA played a big role in his career and philanthropic successes. His training in parliamentary procedure, he said, served him well in his three terms in the Kentucky state legislature.
As the largest youth organization in the United States, the National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 579,678 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,570 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.