The Connecting Chapters program began in the fall of 2017, when Nebraska FFA chapters were invited to join the program designed to equip high school FFA members to connect with elementary students and peers to increase awareness, knowledge and appreciation of agriculture in their communities.
FFA chapters are invited to enroll in the program in the spring and begin the program the following fall. During the school year, FFA chapters:
- Complete an agricultural literacy training.
- Read and donate a book to an elementary classroom.
- Plan and lead one agricultural literacy activity in their school.
- Connect with the local county Farm Bureau to learn more about Farm Bureau.
- Submit a video about their Connecting Chapters experience.
When an FFA chapter signs up to participate in the program, they are matched with a local county Farm Bureau representative. The county member arranges a meeting with the chapter to provide mentorship through a facilitated conversation about the work of the county Farm Bureau. Mentorship is one of the best investments an organization can make, because it serves as an introduction to the work of the organization. Agriculture can’t afford to let talent lay undeveloped and untapped. FFA is full of future farmers and ranchers, future agricultural industry leaders, and future Farm Bureau members.
The Connecting Chapters program presents an opportunity for county Farm Bureaus in Nebraska to enrich their membership base by making future members more qualified leaders in their organization. To build the relationship, the designated county member arranges a meeting with the FFA chapter to discuss who Farm Bureau, its work and how it impacts students. Throughout this discussion, FFA and Farm Bureau make connections and explore ways they can work together. The goal for this discussion is to strengthen the relationship between the county Farm Bureau and FFA chapter.
In building relationships, the county Farm Bureau can be more effective in the community by putting resources such as time and finances of the two groups together. East Butler FFA and Butler County Farm Bureau did just this in the 2020-21 school year.
The East Butler FFA approached the Butler County Farm Bureau about hosting an event during National Agriculture Week. A 60-minute conversation and $60 later, plans were in place to make a lasting impact in the Butler County community.
The East Butler FFA and Butler County Farm Bureau hosted a National Agriculture Week Lunch Party with all elementary students at East Butler Public Schools. FFA students provided information about where food comes from, and the Butler County Farm Bureau provided placemats developed by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, along with party hats and favors.
“The National Ag Week celebration was a chance for the elementary students to think about the food they were eating and have a conversation about how it was grown and the steps from the field to the plate. Students shared their production agriculture stories and their connections to food production,” said Jenny Kocian, East Butler FFA advisor.
Butler County Farm Bureau shared how happy they were to provide the FFA chapter with the supplies because of the connection to the community.
“FFA teaches leadership, and we want to invest in the future leaders of our community. By providing something as simple as the funds to hold their party, we were able to connect with our local FFA chapter and work together toward a common goal,” said Marvin and Colleen Coufal, Butler County Farm Bureau representatives.
This connection between the FFA Chapter and County Farm Bureau serve as an example of the difference Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation programs can make at a local level.
“Agricultural Literacy Programs open the door to helping an entire community appreciate the importance of agriculture. Connecting Chapters bridges the gap between urban and rural, and between Farm Bureau and FFA to create a positive experience statewide,” said Courtney Shreve, director of outreach education.