Olivia Thomas

"And the Award Goes To..."

Blog Post created by Olivia Thomas on Apr 13, 2021

Although April seems a little early to be looking forward to December, the NAAE Award and Scholarship season means our membership begins anticipating winter in spring. Every year ag teachers from across the country begin preparing their applications, gathering photos, and in Allison Meadows case, figuring out how to create a video.


“As an ag teacher in Oregon, we lean strongly on the teacher next door and across the state.” Meadows said when asked why she applied for the Region I Ideas Unlimited award last year. “I think it's important to share ideas with each other and to promote our programs. The more people that apply for the award - the more good ideas [we] gain!”


When the application process changed last year to accommodate the pandemic and subsequent quarantine Meadows wasn’t daunted. With some quick googling and a lot of work she was able to create her video much earlier than she thought, and at the 2020 Virtual NAAE Convention we all got to watch as she described her idea for bringing together FFA members and Alumni alike.


“I love when past students donate their old blue corduroy for new members to wear.” Meadows says about her idea. “When I send a Freshman into the closet to find a jacket that fits, they always ask about the name on the jacket and I promptly give them a short bio. For some jackets, I've had to dig far into my memory bank to remember [the] details. I always wondered, ‘Who will share these students' legacies once I'm gone?’ I wanted to put a short bio on the inside pocket of each jacket but quickly realized that a piece of paper can be lost.”


So, she created a "Legacy Patch" to iron on the inside of each jacket. Included on the patch are past officer positions, CDE success/passions, favorite memories, words of encouragement, etc. Before she started the legacy patches, she had a hard time convincing the seniors to leave their beloved blue corduroy behind. However, the legacy patches have done what the name suggests; they’ve encouraged the students to leave a legacy behind. Now, seniors ask to leave their jacket in the closet and ask to fill out a patch. They are proud to leave their jacket knowing that future members will learn about who they were and what they were passionate about. A simple patch of biographical information has transformed how these students view success, tradition,and the FFA chapter history.


When Meadows applied to the Ideas Unlimited award she and the rest of our award winners had no idea how different their experience would be to the award winners of years past.


“[It was] unprecedented...but so cool!” Meadows assured when asked about her experience. “It was a total surprise getting the plaque, goodies, and IU award winner poster in the mail. I felt celebrated within my school building. In fact, our building administration shared my award video with our staff. Because of the nature of the virtual convention, I love that NAAE staff went above and beyond to make the award winners feel celebrated. [I’m] looking forward to celebrating other members in the future!”


The 2021 applications are now open on the NAAE website, and you can find more information on our awards page here. There are many awards and scholarships available and most of them are open now! If you have any questions please contact Sarah Warren.



“Don't hold back because you don't think your idea isn't mind blowing! [Do it!]” Meadows urged. “Do it because everyone needs to share what they're developing in their own towns so that we can [all] better our cohort of ag teachers [together].”