The FFA motto may be only 12 short words, but they have a big impact in the lives of FFA members. “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.” Even though every line has its own meaning and importance, we are going to focus on the last pillar — “Living to Serve.” Community service and service learning opportunities are such an important aspect of the National FFA Organization.
This year students have even more of an incentive to help their community. The National FFA Organization has set a lofty challenge for its members: “The Living to Serve Chapter Challenge — a nationwide initiative to complete 930,000 collective service hours before the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo in 2020 — kicked off at the 2019 National FFA Convention & Expo with an Are You Ready? Workshop.” This new community service initiative has challenged FFA members all across the country to help their community in any way possible.
With such an overwhelming challenge, some chapters may be looking for new ideas on how to serve their community. FFA Week is coming up soon, which means it is the perfect time to incorporate new ways to help your community.
Community service ideas from chapters across the country include:
- Adopt-a-Highway: Every state is different, but the Adopt-A-Highway program is typically maintained by the Department of Transportation. For example, check out the original Adopt-a-Highway program which started in Texas in 1985. A great bonus of the Adopt-a-Highway program is the sign that goes up along the highway highlighting your chapter is active in the community.
- However, highways are not the only areas that need to look nice in our communities. Popular areas that need to be cleaned up include state parks and your local park — your community members will thank you, even if there isn’t a sign up in the park.
- Another great service opportunity is to make tie blankets for Project Linus. Project Linus collects blankets and distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies, or anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug. In addition to blankets, hospitalized children love receiving hand made cards.
- If you have a local nursing home, contact their administration and see what you can do to help. Some chapters who have a greenhouse will donate small pots of flowers to decorate. In addition to donating the plants, donate your time. The residents love when young people are active and come to visit. Games like Bingo are a great opportunity to get to know each other.
- Another way to help those in your community is to donate produce to families in the school district and the local food bank.
- Many chapters enjoy a fall or spring yard clean-up. In addition to publicizing on social media, put an ad in the local newspaper and people will call the chapter to ask for help.
- Lastly, if your community has a need, build a playground for the disabled in your community — everyone should have the joy of getting to play on the playground. This can be a big project with a need for fundraising, but the joy at the end will be worth it.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. Still not feeling inspired? You can get even more ideas on the Living to Serve website. Scroll down to see the interactive map that has a list of grants other chapters are using to fund their Living to Serve Grant. Click on a few to spark ideas or see if something similar will work for you and your chapter. For example, in Puerto Rico the Dominguito FFA Chapter is producing seedlings to fight hunger and improve health. During the year, FFA members will sponsor three educational and demonstrative workshops that encourage the planting of seedlings in home gardens.
No matter what you do for your service events, just know you are out there helping your community. The most important aspect of community service is to find a need in your community and fill it to better your surroundings.
Related: Read and learn much more about the National FFA Organization here.