FFA SmartNews

Go for FFA gold with these 5 back-to-school tips


For students around the country, the sweetness of summer is already fading with school just weeks out. Advisors are preparing their classrooms, and FFA members look forward to rejoining their chapters. Each school year’s new beginnings provide limitless opportunities for fresh starts and growth, and with a few weeks left of summer, you can get a jumpstart on a successful year with some preparation and forethought.

Here are five tips to help you get your FFA year started off on the right foot:

1. Set goals for the coming year.

What is it that you want to accomplish this year in FFA? Begin setting all your goals with SMART goals in mind; a SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These will help you plan for the coming year and measure progress.

Goals for Greenhands may look different than a junior or senior member aiming for their Chapter FFA degree, but the planning process should start the same way. Begin by writing them out. FFA has five degrees that members can receive; looking at what it takes to obtain each degree level might help you to set goals for the coming year. Members can receive the Discovery Degree, Greenhand Degree, Chapter Degree, State Degree, and the American Degree.

2. Brainstorm SAE project ideas

Or at least look at ways to improve upon your already-established SAE project or business.

What areas interest you? Supervised agricultural experiences are meant to be rewarding, but they’re also meant to help you to learn and grow throughout the year.

There are several categories that you can consider completing an SAE in:

  • Agricultural communications: start an ag blog, agvocacy social media platform, podcast, or try your hand at writing articles about ag in your area for a local news outlet
  • Ag education: bring ag programs to classrooms, fairs, after-school programs, and more
  • Agricultural/farm services: irrigating, operating equipment, feeding livestock, watering a garden
  • Home services: pet sitting, boarding, dog walking, gardening, interior design
  • Agriscience: begin a research project on any hot-button agriculture topic
  • Community service: volunteering is a part of FFA; find a community in need, and get to work implementing and carrying out a community service project
  • School-based projects: many schools offer access to resources to complete projects after class; reach out to your FFA advisor to see what resources may be available to you

3. Learn more about your chosen SAE and network with professionals.

There are more resources now than ever with things like online videos, tutorials, and books. Look for opportunities to attend educational events. Prepare specific, relevant questions and reach out to industry professionals such as producers or university specialists.

4. Prepare your budget.

Take some time to write out a budget for your project year. Don’t forget to include items such as travel and start-up expenses. Check with your local Farm Service Agency to see if youth loans may be a viable option for you, and consider applying for a grant such as the National FFA SAE grant.

5. Make networking and fun a priority.

Take advantage of every opportunity. Start by putting key dates on your calendar to ensure you can be there. FFA is about growing, experiencing, making friends, and learning new skills, so ready, set, and go for the FFA gold!

Heidi Crnkovic, is the Associate Editor for AGDAILY. She is a New Mexico native with deep-seated roots in the Southwest and a passion for all things agriculture.

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