What happens when your FFA chapter is tasked with raising breast cancer awareness? If you’re a member of the Yelm FFA Chapter in Washington state, you rise to the occasion in a big, pink way.
The chapter was given a week to plan and distribute materials for a Pink Out! breast cancer awareness football game in October 2015. Thanks to its efforts, approximately 368 Yelm High School students received pink face paint, hair dye and spirit materials as they entered the stadium, which created an impressive and impactful sea of pink.
“We told our FFA members that the YHS administration would love for a student-led organization to do something different for breast cancer awareness – something that wasn’t just our student athletes wearing pink – and our members really embraced that idea,” says Hillary Hull, a Yelm FFA advisor.
Hull says FFA members promoted their plans during the week leading up to the football game, and the chapter received donations and obtained sponsors to make the ideas a reality.
The chapter was rewarded for the hard work. In addition to raising breast cancer awareness, it gained six new members inspired to join the organization after attending the football game.
Another bonus? Due in large part to the success with Pink Out!, the Yelm FFA was named the 2016 National Model of Excellence Chapter Award winner at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. The National Chapter Award program is sponsored by John Deere.
“We applied for the award at the state level and won. We were one of 10 chapters in the running for the award at the convention,” says Matt Mounts, a Yelm FFA advisor of nearly 20 years. “When it was announced that the Yelm FFA won the National Model of Excellence Chapter Award, the excitement was through the roof.”
Make Your Chapter Exemplary
Although there’s no specific formula to ensure success, there are several ways FFA chapters can grow their reach and stand out.
For example, Hull says it’s important for chapters to be member-driven rather than advisor-driven. She points out that exemplary chapters typically think outside the box when it comes to planning events.
In addition, Mounts suggests that chapter advisors work to ensure their chapter activities fill community needs and engage community members.
“The success of our FFA chapter is not just due to the members and advisors,” Mounts says. “It’s also due to the school district and the community coming together to make our initiatives successful. You can put on the best-planned activities and have the best intentions, but if you don’t have people who are willing to participate, you’re not going to be successful.”
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of FFA New Horizons.