The agriculture industry is always trying to support future ag leaders. This week, PhytoGen Best Yielder members donated program points totaling more than $14,000 to the National FFA Organization Give the Gift of Blue program, providing approximately 180 of the blue FFA jackets, along with ties or scarves.
“These funds will provide official blue FFA jackets to students who otherwise might not be able to obtain them,” said Molly Ball, National FFA Foundation president and chief marketing officer.
The National FFA Organization has more than 700,000 members, aged 12 to 21, in 8,612 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of those, only about half own their jackets.
“Many of us within PhytoGen are former FFA members, and we recognize the National FFA Organization’s valuable role in preparing students for careers in agriculture,” said PhytoGen Brand Manager Derek Racca. “We also recognize that the FFA jacket is a symbol of so much more, and we know firsthand the pride that comes with wearing the blue and gold.”
Racca noted that cotton growers who are members of the PhytoGen Best Yielder program receive exclusive agronomic updates and resources to help them thrive. This year, members gave up their own prizes to contribute to the jacket program.
Putting the Program Into Action
Jamie Vayon, who teaches ag sciences and serves as an FFA advisor at Cesar E. Chavez High School in the Houston, TX Independent School District, agrees the iconic corduroy jacket is a symbol of personal growth and success. Among the 450 FFA members in the Houston ISD, FFA jackets are often borrowed or passed down from siblings.
“There’s a lot of pride in that blue jacket, and to have your own name on an FFA jacket builds self-esteem,” Vayon said. “We have kids who are active and have good grades, but they need a little help investing in the required official attire.”
Vayon and the three other Houston ISD ag teachers devised an essay requirement as a qualification for the free jacket program. Essay winners are then sized for the proper fit and later awarded their jackets in an official ceremony.
“It’s easy for kids to fall into the wrong things these days,” said Vayon. “Establishing this sense of accomplishment now can roll into furthering their success in life and their chosen careers.”
She explains the FFA holds multiple fundraisers to assist students with all their ag projects. Every year, they have three or four students who are gifted a jacket.
“The Give the Gift of Blue program is a huge help to us, and we appreciate all of the sponsors who make it happen,” Vayon said.