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Spurs Chapter Growth and Local Engagement

Demand for blue jackets in Nebraska is on the rise. There are more FFA members in Nebraska than ever before - nearly 8,000 across 176 chapters.

and strengthen agriculture,” said Heidi Cuca, Senior Account Executive at Husker IMG and former Tri-County FFA member.

Cuca joined representatives from other corporate partners and current FFA members at a reception during State Convention where students shared the positive effects the campaign made possible within their chapters. Similarly, industry guests shared how FFA had personally influenced their lives and careers, and why their organizations support Nebraska FFA through the I Believe program.

Much of the growth within chapters and establishment of new chapters can be linked to the I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign. The campaign is focused on building financial capacity for the future of FFA at both the local and state levels. Chapters and statewide sponsors, through their retail outlets, ask agricultural producers, customers, employees, FFA members and community leaders to contribute to the campaign. Supporters can designate which chapter will receive their donation. From there, chapters receive a premium back from statewide corporate partners on every dollar they raise. The funds raised during the 2016-17 campaign year totaled $270,000. Corporate partners contributed another $35,000 making the total amount distributed back to chapters $305,000.

Nearly 1.4 million dollars have been raised and shared with Nebraska FFA chapters and many see this as a critical part of preparing the next generation to address the demands of a growing global population.

Dennis Kenning of Farmers Coop, and a former ag teacher, underscored this when he reminded the audience, “When you listen to media, the impression of ag isn’t always so good. Everyone needs to band together and promote agriculture.”

The campaign is promoted through a special partnership with Husker Sports Marketing and Nebraska Radio Network. Using their media platforms, like signage and radio, the campaign has allowed Nebraska FFA to share its message broadly - from the far western reaches of the state to its urban audiences in the east.

He and other speakers shared their commitment to working toward the continued growth of FFA in Nebraska so that stong leaders are developed - and more blue jackets. The 2017-18 I Believe in the Future of Ag Campaign will kick off in August. Contact your local FFA Chapter for more details.

“Through the IMG platforms, nearly 1 million people watched, attended, listened to and followed Husker sporting events, making the partnership we have with FFA critical to helping Nebraska FFA grow leaders, build communities



A Favor for a Friend, Support for a Lifetime When a buddy’s kid asked Ray Ward to help aspiring FFA state officers prepare for their upcoming election, Ray said “sure”. He figured he’d listen to a few speeches, offer some advice, and be on his way. “It was intense…it was really hard work,” Ray recalled about the experience roughly 20 years ago. It was Ray’s first official FFA experience and the beginning of a relationship with Nebraska FFA that led Ray and his wife, Jolene, to establish an endowment in their name last year. “What they had to go through made me realize there were a lot of kids standing up to speak for themselves and others,” Ray recalled. After his introductory FFA experience, Ray served as a judge for a Supervised Ag Experience project where he learned about a student who was cutting up hedge apples, drying them and selling them in California. Ray, a business owner himself, developed a deep appreciation for the creativity and leadership skills these students were learning and demonstrating in high school. Ray believed in what students were learning and supplemented his time investment with financial support. He sponsored the Agronomy Contest, investing about $1,000 per year.

Around 2008, Ray served on the Nebraska FFA Foundation Board where his view was broadened from working directly with students to learning about all the ways individuals and industry support agricultural education and FFA. During his time on the Board, economic conditions were tight and industry support had slipped. “I realized that to keep FFA and agricultural education viable, the people of Nebraska needed to step in and support it.” The Wards established an endowment as their way to provide sustained support. Ray chose the Foundation because it he felt it was important to provide funds that can grow and be used in the future.

“I think FFA is stronger than any other student organization,” Ray said without hesitation, “I wanted to provide ongoing support, and set a good example for others who want to make sure the future of agriculture in Nebraska remains strong.”

Save the Date

September 13, 2017 Nebraska FFA Tire Auction | Husker Harvest Days, Grand Island, NE April 4-6, 2018 Nebraska FFA State Convention | Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, NE



State Officer Reunion Inspired Young to Help Expand Future Opportunities After a number of years spent out of state pursuing careers in the financial and software industries, Korey and Tammy Young returned to Nebraska in time to celebrate Korey’s 25-year state officer reunion, igniting a desire to get involved as donors. The Creighton FFA alumnus reconnected with fellow state officers from the 1989-90 academic year and met the current state officer team. It triggered memories of his time spent in FFA and introduced him to the ways FFA has evolved over the years.

leadership gift of $1,000 per year for five years. The Young’s Gift of Corn supports the Nebraska FFA Foundation mission and strategies.

“It’s really impressive how much they do,” Korey said, “they participate in international trips and programs that I didn’t have available to me 25 years ago.

The Young’s know donations like theirs will help expand the opportunities available to future generations of students.

Tammy added, “And the students always impress us with how mature they are and how focused they are on their future plans.”

“We don’t have children of our own, and FFA is our way to give to future generations,” Korey said, “We want rural kids to know there’s an entire world available to them.”

The couple currently supports the blue jacket program to help offset the cost of FFA jackets for students, and pledged to an individual

Nebraska FFA State Officers for 2017-18 were elected at the recent convention. They will represent Nebraska FFA and travel throughout the year meeting with FFA members, chapters and ag industry leaders.

2017-18 State Officer Team: (pictured from left to right)

Hailey Coufal, State Vice President Howells-Dodge FFA Chapter

Jessica Rudolph, State Vice President Gothenburg FFA Chapter

Kelli Mashino, State Vice President West Boyd FFA Chapter

Brock Vetick, State Vice President Lyons-Decatur Northeast FFA Chapter

Lydia Vinton, State Secretary Mullen FFA Chapter

Isabelle Stewart, State Vice President Lakeview FFA Chapter

Jake Judge, State President West Holt FFA Chapter



Integrating Passion for Ag, Students and Community The Nebraska FFA Foundation presented Mrs. Robyn Graham with the 2017 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award at the Nebraska FFA Convention on April 5.

Robyn Graham, FFA advisor for Humphrey FFA, was nominated for the award with support from fellow teachers, students, past students and school administration. Toni Rasmussen, former student teacher for Graham, wrote in her nomination that Graham balances her family, students, lessons and FFA program, along with owning a cow-calf operation, farm ground, and coaching the cheerleading and dance teams.

Recently, Graham helped establish a tractor playground in the Humphrey community park. She spent over three years planning, coordinating fundraisers, finding volunteers, explaining and overseeing the project. This project started as an idea from a few committed FFA members and, as Rasmussen writes, “This was a large project that she could have easily turned down since it was so overwhelming. However, she knew the group of students were passionate to complete it and she did not want to turn them down.”

ever will in a lifetime. Mom, daughter, advisor, teacher, welder, wife, cheer/dance sponsor, gardener, public speaking expert, community leader, playground builder, fruit saleswoman, donkey-rider, best friend and so many more things…she truly has integrated passion for an industry into her students as well as her family and loved ones.”

The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award recognizes a Nebraska agriculture teacher or FFA advisor for what he or she has done in helping others, specifically in the school and community, outside of agriculture education and FFA. Graham received a plaque and $500 cash award from the Nebraska FFA Foundation.

Jennifer Dicke, who grew up with Graham, supported her nomination by saying, “Robyn wears more hats in one year than any of us


Congratulations Award Winners Almost 100 awards are given out at state convention each year for events ranging from the Agronomy Career Development Event to the Senior Public Speaking Leadership Skill Event.

We are so proud of Nebraska’s agricultural education students who put in the hard work to prepare for state convention and are very grateful for the many sponsors who contributed to make these award programs a possibility. For comprehensive results of state convention, go to 5


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Nebraska FFA Foundation June 2017 Newsletter  
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