One of the most recognized pieces of FFA is the blue jacket. The straight-lined, blue and gold corduroy jacket means many things, but one of the most important things it represents is the person wearing that jacket. The traditions passed down from generation to generation are wrapped up in the jacket.
Even though the jacket is a requirement of official dress order, it often becomes a sentimental piece with the members. However, not every member is able to purchase one of the blue jackets, through no fault of their own. The National FFA Organization gives back with its Give Blue program. This program allows students to make memories in a jacket of their own.
Through the Give Blue initiative and with help of donations, the National FFA Organization was able to gift 7,000 jackets this year. The recipients were FFA members from across the country. This is an opportunity to give each member the chance to be clothed in tradition. For over 85 years, the blue corduroy jacket has been the official dress of FFA members. According to the National FFA website, between 2014 and 2017, more than 3,500 jackets had been gifted to deserving students. FFA works with many individuals and organizations including Dodge Ram, Tractors Supply, and John Deere to provide students a chance to own a jacket instead of getting a hand-me-down.
As many alumni know, a jacket can last much longer than four years. No matter how many stains, with a quick wash and a little love, a jacket can continue with you past high school. Even though there is a limited window to make memories, they can last a lifetime. We could never guess the memories that will be made in the blue jacket, but it wouldn’t be possible if we were never given the opportunity. Being a part of the “sea of blue” means you are apart of something bigger. Whitney Turek says it best with a letter to her FFA jacket.
“When I first graduated high school, I was saddened by the idea of my time as an FFA member coming to an end. However, it wasn’t long after I realized I still represented the blue and gold corduroy jacket each and every day. FFA is not just an organization you are involved with for a few years and then it ends; it’s a tradition of values passed down from generation to generation and skill sets and characteristics used each and every day.”
One couple realized the value of students having a jacket to call their own. In 2014 during National FFA Week, Don and Mira Ball created an endowment to guarantee members who would not normally be able to receive a jacket, could. Much like students today, Mr. Ball also needed a little extra help in purchasing a jacket. Without the means to buy his own jacket, his mother was creative and restitched his name on his older brother’s jacket. In 2014 the National FFA Organization gifted Don his first jacket with his name on it. Every year the Ball Family donates 300 jackets to students across the country. If you know of a student who would qualify or have any questions, email [email protected]