Allison Burns has just begun her FFA career. Today, the Indiana sophomore is becoming part of history — when she receives her official FFA blue jacket from the Give the Gift of Blue program.
More than 50 percent of FFA members do not have FFA blue jackets for official functions — it is traditionally 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 that might not otherwise have been able to own a blue 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 the Wednesday of National FFA Week, making it the 10,000th jacket presented through this program. Jim Wildermuth, advisor of the North Miami FFA Chapter, nominated Allison for the jacket. He mentions that Burns is a newly active chapter member, and 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. Currently, Allison borrows other jackets of older FFA members to wear to her contests.
“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 are 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 the Give Blue website 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.