If you've wandered the pages of Communities of Practice this past week, it seems pretty quiet. I have no concrete data to support this observation, but (with the exception of a slew of great Ag Mechanics posts in the past day or two) it's seemed uncommonly slow around here. This would suggest that something may have been keeping us all busy this past few days.
Must have been the weather. Or FFA Week.
For us, FFA Week comes in the midst of preparation and competition of our leadership CDEs and three weeks before State Convention. Of course, we could celebrate FFA Week in the fall right before National Convention, or the spring in between the 18 CDEs scattered through there, let alone the end of the year banquet. So sure, why not February.
The great thing about FFA Week is that there are no rules, at least how we approach it. We see it as a great way for our members to take ownership, and work to involve as many students as possible in the planning. Our officers tend to take a step back and let others make it happen with the guiding principle that leadership is an action, not a position. The downside to such a plan is that when you rely on that many students some things don't get done, or don't happen the way they were planned. The great thing is when things do happen, and happen well. Students take ownership, work hard, and are rewarded by the success of their planning. Such responsibility is the strongest lesson and most valuable experience we can give to our students in the time we have them. Planning an assembly, organizing a crew to decorate, preparing activities for lunch, or speaking to the assembled student body can't be measured by technical skill assessments or standardized tests, even when they will be personal development that influences their lives. FFA Week is one of those things they can truly do that with.
The last couple years we've wanted to make sure our FFA Week was sending the right message. It seems that at times we struggle with what FFA is; on one hand we celebrate the traditions of agriculture and while explaining how much more is involved. In the past, we'd have our annual assembly, beginning with a couple snazzily dressed members in official dress addressing the crowd and explaining how diverse FFA is and has much more to it than cows, sows, and plows, emphasizing career-related competitive events and leadership. And as soon as that was done, we'd proceed with what I'd describe as redneck games: hay stacking, roping, buttered corn toss, etc. Fun activities to be sure, but which part do you think the audience remembered: the verbage or the visuals? Clearly our messages didn't match. Last year we decided to change it up by having a giant relay race that involved ten different stations, with each station involving one of Oregon's top ten agricultural commodities (disclaimer: totally stole this idea from another chapter that had done this before). The goal: have a team-oriented challenge that still recognized the importance of agriculture. The best of both worlds!
Hopefully your FFA Week was a great time celebrating some fantastic students and an esteemed organization. FFA Week can truly be your own; it isn't some contest with rules and a format - how it looks is up to you and your students, and even when it happens is not etched in stone. FFA is something that can - and really should - be celebrated year round. Make FFA something your students take ownership in.
Challenge: comment on how your students take ownership in your chapter and make you proud!