Interested in helping local FFA chapters? Consider starting an FFA Alumni and Supporters chapter at your company or organization.
By Jami Stall, National FFA Organization
Grant Belden gets excited just talking about all the shared experiences an FFA Alumni and Supporters chapter can provide. Vice President of North American Shelling at Golden Peanut and Tree Nuts—one of many Archer Daniels Midland Company-owned entities—Belden is president of ADM’s FFA Alumni and Supporters chapter.
Because ADM employs so many past FFA members, the chapter originally was established more than a decade ago so they could serve local FFA chapters. Then it was decided the chapter should include anyone willing to volunteer his or her time and experience—not just former members.
Grateful for his own FFA days and his professional success in agribusiness, Belden views his efforts with ADM’s chapter as a way to reciprocate to an organization that profoundly impacted the course of his life.
“I’ve been very fortunate, very blessed, working for a global company that gives me the opportunity to travel extensively and learn all about soybeans and a luxury product like chocolate,” he says. I’ve lived in Nebraska, Wisconsin, The Netherlands, and Switzerland, and spent time working with colleagues in West Africa. Now I’m back, in the suburbs of Atlanta, Ga. To come full circle and be involved in our alumni chapter, connecting to FFA—the original organization—and to help other young people have these types of opportunities? C’mon, that’s brilliant, right? I think it’s an outstanding opportunity.”
ADM’s chapter serves the local FFA chapter in several ways—from assisting with state convention duties to judging events. Belden says the more corporations that have FFA Alumni and Supporter chapters, the more networking opportunities colleagues can enjoy while serving the local chapters.
Company employees can also assist with national grant reviews and other opportunities such as student mentoring electronically from their homes or offices. FFA tries to make engagement easy so that alumni and supporters chapters can impact as many students as possible.
Culver’s started its FFA Alumni and Supporters chapter in 2017, eventually naming it Culver’s FFA Supporters. Culver’s marketing specialist, Lora Kippley, says its chapter in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, was renamed to avoid any confusion that the membership was exclusively for FFA alumni.
Kippley says today the company continues to recruit team members and franchisees to join the alumni and supporters’ chapter. With over 700 locally-owned restaurants, that can translate to a vast support system for local FFA chapters. This support can be through financial contributions but also through serving as volunteers, guest speakers, event judges, and even advocates.
Additionally, in the past seven years, the support center team and Culver’s franchisees have donated more than 550 jackets to the Give the Gift of Blue program.
Learn more about FFA Alumni and Supporters and how to start a chapter at your company or organization at FFA.org/alumni.
AgCareers.com is the Strategic Career Success Partner of the National FFA Organization.