When one hears “FFA,” a vision of the organization’s iconic blue jacket springs to mind. Since introducing the distinctive garment in 1933, FFA has issued more than 4 million jackets to deserving young agricultural leaders. Today, more than half a million young people in all 50 states proudly wear it.
In recognition of the jacket’s honored tradition and to support the FFA, Syngenta and its retailer partners launched the FFA Blue Jacket Program in 2008. At the community level, the program contributes a jacket and $500 annually to a local FFA chapter that participating retailers designate. The Blue Jacket Program also contributes a portion of its total donations to national FFA programs.
“We’re happy to give young people opportunities to learn about agriculture and the careers it offers,” said Chad Conover, a southeast region agronomy manager for Key Cooperative. His co-op in Sully, Iowa, selected the Lynnville-Sully FFA chapter as its 2012 recipient. The chapter used its contribution to purchase fertilizer for a new 40-acre teaching farm and awarded the jacket to a student, based on outstanding leadership skills and service to FFA, said Brian Lowry, the chapter’s adviser.
Frenchman Valley Cooperative in Imperial, Neb., has contributed to the FFA Blue Jacket Program for the last five years, designating the Imperial FFA chapter as its local recipient. “FFA gives young people the chance to lead and develop confidence, as well as to compete and win or lose with the proper attitude,” said Tom Gaschler, a master agronomist with the co-op.
Since the program’s inception, Syngenta has matched every $2,500 pledged by retailers to support FFA. As a result, together they have now donated more than $2.6 million to the organization.