Now, as FFA celebrates its diamond anniversary during 2003, the organization recognizes the opportunity to launch a national campaign to begin the process of reconnecting with its former members.
National FFA advisor Larry Case says that while many members have taken the initiative to stay active with FFA over the years, little has been done within the organization to develop a dialogue with the former membership base. He cites a lack of technology available to track the large number of former members as the main impediment to progress. However, Case says recent changes have virtually eliminated this hurdle.
"We've made significant strides in the last two years to upgrade our technological capabilities," he explains. "These strides, coupled with the explosion of Internet users, means FFA now has the tools to reconnect and maintain a relationship with former members."
THE FFA SEED GROWS
Countless students have launched successful lives through their participation in FFA. Some of the most notable alumni include former President Jimmy Carter, Nicholas Kristof (associate managing editor and editorial columnist for The New York Times) and Fred McClure (aide to former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush).
REACHING THE MASSES
While there could be many distinct ways to reconnect with former members, the National FFA Organization is enlisting the help of trade media, FFA associations, FFA chapters and corporate sponsors. The multimedia effort consists of advertisements, a dedicated Web site, publicity, posters and state and local promotions. Additional coverage will be sought through radio and television interviews and participation in national trade shows.
The ads, created as an in-kind project by Bader Rutter & Associates Inc. based in Milwaukee, are scheduled to run in various agricultural publications the rest of this year. Greg Nickerson, president of Bader Rutter and FFA sponsors board member, says the agency was excited to help the organization create a campaign to reconnect with former members.
"The ads provide a Web address and toll-free number to make it easy for former FFA members to reconnect with the organization," Nickerson explains. "Additionally, a press kit explaining the 'reconnect story' will be sent to trade media and FFA sponsors for use in publications and Web sites."
RELIVING THE MEMORIES, FINDING OLD FRIENDS
Former members are invited to relive their FFA experience at www.ffa.org/reconnect/. The Web site, which represents a major redesign, includes features such as:
Former members who were active at local, state and national levels shared how they would like to reconnect with FFA and each other, according to Brighton USA, which designed the site as an in-kind contribution to the FFA.
"The site will allow former members to recapture their FFA experiences and find old friends," says Christine M. Nieland, Brighton USA account supervisor. "Alumni can discover ways to help ensure today's FFA members share in the rich FFA experience."
As a token of appreciation for former members, those who register on the Web site will be entered into a drawing for FFA 75th Anniversary merchandise.
Once a former member's information has been established through the Reconnect campaign, it will be managed by the National FFA Organization and will not be sold or made available to anyone outside the organization.
Ultimately, FFA views the Reconnect campaign as a way of building upon the human investment developed by the organization for more than 75 years.
"For FFA to continue to excel in the future, it's our hope that former members who benefited from their FFA experience will give back to the organization through volunteer, advocacy and financial support efforts," Case says. "Working together, we can ensure that the next generations of FFA members are able to begin a lifetime of success through agricultural education."
If you are a former member and wish to contact FFA, call the toll-free number at 888/433-2674. Or visit the Reconnect Web site at www.ffa.org/reconnect/. AM