Fruit and meat sales, concession stands, event ad sales. No matter the product, the service or the season, you’ve probably helped with some type of fundraising effort for your chapter. Beyond the obvious benefit of raising much-needed money for FFA activities and events, fundraising efforts can also help you develop other important life skills. Helping collect money and make change at a plant sale develops your money management skills. Promoting a car wash helps you develop public relations skills. Selling fruit to your family members and neighbors increases your communication and problem-solving skills. And keeping track of your progress in any fundraiser helps you to be more organized and goal-oriented. These are the exact types of skills that employers find valuable.
Take the Wapello FFA Chapter from Iowa, for example.
Every year, the FFA chapter hosts the Wapello Pro Rodeo that brings in crowds and cowboys from across the country. FFA members sell advertising for the event, which brought in $55,000 last year, make contacts with businesses, manage the rodeo finances, and write and design the entire rodeo booklet.
“I’ve had several sponsors call me back and ask how soon they can hire my students after a meeting,” says Irv Meir, a retired agricultural education teacher from the Wapello FFA Chapter. “Students develop confidence after meeting with someone they don’t know. They gain organizational skills and planning abilities, which are major life skills.”
The Montgomery County FFA Chapter in Missouri is also successful at raising funds for their chapter through ice cream sales, labor auctions, fruit and meat sales, and an annual scholarship raffle. However, according to FFA advisor John Hoer, the leadership skills are the main reason they do so well.
“It is this ‘total team effort’ that makes us very successful,” Hoer says. “Our chapter officers lead the way as we count on them to not only be directly involved with each activity, but to also be examples for other members of how to do things the right way. This might involve organizing and checking fruit orders or captaining work shifts at the fair or giving tips on how to be a better salesperson. Our members are given many opportunities to immediately see the benefits of their labor, and because of this, many strive to help carry the load.”
Hoer and the Montgomery FFA chapter members are also quick to point out that no chapter would be successful without the support of their community.
“These are not extremely wealthy individuals, or people who have nothing else to spend their money on,” Hoer says. “Most of them are hardworking people just like you. But they are choosing to make an investment in you and the things you do, so you owe it to them to work hard, do your best, and give back in some way to repay them for their generosity.”
– Beverley Kreul Flatt