FFA donor strives to make a a difference in members’ lives


FFA impacts our lives in may ways, during high school and long after. When the Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch talks about her daughter, Sara Braasch Schmidt, it’s with a fondness of how much she loved FFA and the role FFA played in her life. Braasch knew how much FFA and specifically Washington Leadership Conference meant to Sara, and to continue the family legacy she has announced the Washington Conference Endowment that will allow more students to experience the conference.

In fact, Sara was a former state president of the Idaho FFA Association, participated in the FFA Washington Leadership Conference in 1986, was a counselor for WLC in 1991 and a WLC director in 1992. She saw WLC as a life-changing event on a personal level as well as for the members who participated while she was on staff. Sara often told people that her time in FFA was what made everything else possible and contributed to her success. Prior to her death from cancer in 2016, Sara established an endowment with the Idaho FFA Foundation to provide scholarships to WLC.

“WLC made such a profound impact on Sara’s life. It’s beyond words. It opened doors. It opened horizons. It opened relationships that continue up until the time of her death,” Braasch said. “Our hope is that through this endowment the Washington Leadership Conference continues to grow, to reach more and more kids who might never have the life-changing opportunity that it provides, and to assure that it remains foundational to the leadership development system that FFA is so well-known for.”

The Washington Conference Endowment was established to provide funds to support and sustain the Washington Leadership Conference in perpetuity. Braasch made this donation in loving memory of both her husband Leroy “Red” Braasch and their daughter. As a young man, Red Braasch was a member of the Manitowoc, Wisconsin FFA Chapter. He and Cathi Braasch met in 1966 through their mutual involvement with the North Salinas California chapter. Red and Cathi remained active in FFA throughout the nearly 50 years of their marriage, most recently as alumni in establishment of the Bertrand-Loomis (BerMis) Nebraska FFA Chapter. 

Cathi Braasch also established the Washington Conference Endowment so that others can contribute to it with gifts of any size to help secure the future of WLC and FFA members. Appropriately, alongside the 50th anniversary celebration of WLC this year, the National FFA is running a campaign to reconnect with all WLC (formerly known as the Washington Conference) alumni to present several exciting opportunities for them to “check in” with FFA and reunite their WLC alumni friends. Past WLC participants are encouraged to visit their website and use the hashtag #FFAWLC50 to share their WLC memories.

“The Washington Leadership Conference has been building future leaders for 50 years, and Cathi Braasch’s commitment is not only generous, but it will also ensure that WLC will continue to provide life-changing experiences for FFA members long into the future,” said Jim Williams, executive director of development for the National FFA Foundation.

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