Helping others has a tendency to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. So it’s not surprising one of the annual national FFA convention’s most popular activities is the National Days of Service, which gives FFA members a chance to help people in need.
“This will be the sixth year for National Days of Service,” says Kelsey Walls, program manager for the National FFA Organization. “The FFA National Days of Service is one of the most sought-after events for FFA members attending the largest youth education convention in the United States. The program often reaches capacity within days of the opening of registration.”
At the 2011 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis this October, more than 1,000 spots will be open for FFA members to give their time and energy in a volunteer opportunity. The activity is also educational as it usually relates to agriculture.
The 2011 FFA National Days of Service is sponsored by CSX Corp. (the leading supplier of rail-based freight transportation in North America) and takes place October 20 and 21. Eleven non-profit organizations in Central Indiana are lined up to benefit from the service activity and eagerly await the arrival of able-bodied FFA members. Some of the work sites include Gleaners Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Jameson Camp, Maplelawn Farmstead, Indy Parks, Joy’s House and Second Helpings. Participants will be doing everything from clearing brush and planting trees to assembling food boxes and rehabilitating houses.
“Since we took on this annual service project, FFA members from across the country have embraced the opportunity with impressive dedication and a sincere desire to help several areas of the city they’re visiting,” Walls says. “This is truly an opportunity for them to both serve as leaders and learn about areas they may be unfamiliar with.”
“This is truly an opportunity for them to both serve as leaders and learn about areas they may be unfamiliar with.”
Some state FFA organizations also include a Day of Service event during their state conventions. The Florida FFA Association held its fifth annual Florida FFA Day of Service during the 83rd Florida FFA State Convention in June, and it had a huge impact on the city of Orlando. Florida FFA partnered with America’s Second Harvest Food Bank and Keep Orlando Beautiful to make the event such a big success.
“This year we had more than 9,000 pounds of food collected and donated to America’s Second Harvest Food Bank,” says Michael Rogalsky, education specialist for Membership, Chapter Development, Career and Leadership Events for the Florida FFA Association. “More than 50 chapters participated in the event either by donating food or visiting one of the sites to volunteer. We have a maximum of 50 students per volunteer shift, and each year those slots fill up within one week of opening. We are exploring the possibility of adding another site to the event next year.”
Serving at Home
Interested in starting a Day of Service in your own community? Michael Rogalsky of the Florida FFA Association offers these suggestions:
• Research community-based organizations in your community. They have opportunities and welcome the help.
• Contact large corporations and share your plan. They often have money in their budgets to help with community service projects and are happy to partner with you.
• Create a fun way to recognize the achievements of your participants.
• Research other Day of Service activities for ideas. Every state does something different and may have great ideas.
• Be patient when contacting organizations. Most are very busy and will get back with you within two weeks.
— Jessica Mozo