FFA membership degrees are awarded based upon a student’s ability to follow a Supervised Agricultural Experience program, commonly known as SAE. Freshmen and sophomores in high school should create a plan to obtain each of these degrees, and the best part about them is they are set up in order to provide any FFA member a chance to get them. All it takes is a little bit of hard work and a plan of action.
DISCOVERY DEGREE: This degree is awarded to students who are in seventh or eighth grade and are enrolled in agricultural classes as well as pay dues to their FFA chapter. This degree is not needed in order to pursue a Greenhand degree, but if it is offered in your state, it is a great way to jumpstart your FFA career. The purpose of this degree is to recognize students who are working to become successful members of their FFA chapter. The requirements to apply for this degree are:
- Enroll in an agriculture class for at least a portion of a school year while in grades seven and eight.
- Become a dues-paying FFA member at the chapter, state and national levels.
- Participate in at least one FFA chapter activity outside of scheduled class time.
- Have an understanding of agriculture-related careers and entrepreneurship opportunities.
- Become familiar with the local FFA chapter’s Program of Activities (POA).
- Submit a written application for the degree.
GREENHAND DEGREE: This is a degree given to first-year high school students who have demonstrated that they have a thorough understanding of the history and purpose of FFA and have an SAE plan. The requirements to applying for this degree are:
- Enroll in an agricultural education program and have satisfactory plans for a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE).
- Learn and explain the FFA Creed, FFA Mission and Motto, and FFA salute.
- Describe and explain the meaning of the FFA emblem and FFA colors.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the FFA Code of Ethics and the proper use of the FFA jacket.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the history of the organization, the chapter constitution and bylaws and the chapter Program of Activities.
- Own or have access to the Official FFA Manual and the Official FFA Student Handbook.
- Submit a written application for the Greenhand FFA Degree.
CHAPTER DEGREE: Following being awarded a Greenhand degree, an active member can then apply for the Chapter degree. This is accomplished if members are enrolled in an agricultural science course, have an approved SAE operation in place, demonstrate their leadership capabilities and passion for FFA by being involved in their local chapter, and have completed at least two semesters of agricultural science courses above the freshman level. The requirements for applying for this degree are:
- Received the Greenhand FFA Degree.
- Satisfactorily completed 180 hours (or the equivalent) of systematic school instruction in agricultural education at or above the ninth grade level.
- Have an approved SAE in operation.
- Enrolled in an agriculture course.
- Participated in the planning and implementation of at least three official FFA chapter activities.
- Earned and productively invested at least $150, or have worked at least 45 hours outside of scheduled class time, or a combination of the two, through their SAE.
- Have developed plans for continued growth and improvement of their SAE.
- Effectively lead a group discussion for 15 minutes.
- Demonstrated five parliamentary law procedures.
- Show progress toward achievement in FFA award programs.
- Have a satisfactory academic record.
- Submitted a written application for the Chapter FFA Degree.
- Complete a minimum of 10 hours of community service activities.
STATE DEGREE: This is the highest degree in each state. This degree demonstrates the student has put an exceptional amount of time into their SAE and local chapter. It is awarded after receiving the aforementioned degrees. The requirements of this degree are:
- Received a Chapter FFA Degree.
- Have been an active FFA member for at least two years (24 months) at the time of receiving the State FFA Degree
- Have completed at least 2 years (360 hours) of systematic school instruction in agricultural education at our above the ninth grade level, which includes an SAE.
- Have earned and productively invested at least $1000 and worked at least 300 hours in excess of scheduled class time, in a supervised agricultural experience program. The combination of hours and earnings multiplied by a factor of 3.33 must be equal to or greater than the number 1,000.
- Demonstrated leadership ability by performing 10 parliamentary law procedures, giving a six-minute speech on a topic relating to agriculture or FFA, and serving as an FFA officer, committee chairperson, or committee member.
- Have a satisfactory academic record, certified by the agriculture teacher and the school principal or superintendent.
- Participated in the planning and implementation of the chapter’s Program of Activities.
- As of April 1, have completed ten activities above the chapter level in at least three of six different categories: leadership development events, career development events, conventions and meetings, project shows, student awards and leadership and service as described in policies adopted by the Board of Directors.
- Complete at least 25 hours of community service in a minimum of two different activities. All community service hours are cumulative, i.e. the 10 community service hours used to obtain the chapter degree can be used toward the state degree.
AMERICAN DEGREE: This is the highest degree an FFA student can acquire. To apply for this degree, a student must demonstrate the most outstanding involvement within the chapter and provide records of their supervised SAE project, that of which should display their ability to plan, manage and finance with expertise. This degree is difficult to earn, but worthy of the hard work. The full list of requirements to apply for this degree are:
- Have received a Greenhand FFA Degree, Chapter FFA Degree and State FFA Degree.
- Have been FFA members for at least three years.
- Have completed at least three years (540 hours) of high school agriculture classes, or 2 years of high school agriculture classes and one year of college agriculture classes (360 hours.)
- Have graduated from high school one year prior to the
- National FFA Convention at which their degree will be awarded.
- Have maintained detailed SAE records, which demonstrate outstanding planning, managerial and financial skills.
- Have earned and productively invested at least $7,500, or have earned and productively invested at least $1,500 and worked 2,250 hours beyond scheduled school hours through their SAEs.
- Effective Jan. 1, 2015: A student after entering agricultural education must have: (a.) Earn at least $10,000 and productively invested $7,500 or (b.) Have earned and productively invested at least $2,000 and worked 2,250 unpaid hours in excess of scheduled class time; Any combination of hours, times a factor of 3.56 plus actual dollars earned and productively invested must be equal to or greater than the number 10,000. Hours used for the purpose of producing earnings reported as productively invested income shall not be duplicated as hours of credit to meet the minimum requirements for the degree.
- Have a record of outstanding leadership skills. Have completed at least 50 hours of community service within at least three different community service activities. These hours are in addition to the paid or unpaid supervised agricultural experience hours.
- Have a record of outstanding leadership skills.
- Have a record of participating in community service activities. Updated Community Service Requirements: Have completed at least 50 hours of community service within at least three different community service activities. These hours are in addition to the paid or unpaid supervised agricultural experience hours.
- Have maintained a “C” grade average or better.
For more information about these degrees, SAEs and how to get involved in the FFA organization, find your state website, speak to an advisor at your local chapter, or head to the National FFA website!
Markie Hageman majored in agribusiness at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Her AGDAILY.com articles can be found here.