Jeff Magee and Farm Credit Services, great Partners of FFA Alumni working together!

Leadership Academy of Excellence

Farm Credit

At Farm Credit Services of Illinois, we have found Dr. Jeff Magee and his Signature Series- Leadership Academy of Excellence to be the perfect fit for our strategic leadership develop initiative. Dr. Magee brings an unbelievable level of energy int o a compelling, engaging and interactive workshop environment focused on management and leadership development. Leadership Excellence covers a full twelve months of on-site, hands-on interaction with your staff. The professionally prepared materials and format of the sessions allow us to involve a fairly large group of participants so we get the maximum return for our investment.

weengagealumlogo With Dr. Magee’s program we have been able to provide this organization with a world-class leadership development initiative. It has exceeded my expectations in every respect. Dr. Magee has touched each person in the program. He is personable and engaging. We relate to him as a part of our leadership team. If you are pursuing a management and leadership development initiative, be sure to consider Dr. Magee as an integral part of your program.

David Owens, Chief Executive Officer, Farm Credit Services of Illinois FCS IL


Dixie National Livestock Show Spotlights FFA!

Dixie National Livestock ShowSaturday afternoon my family and I attended the Dixie National Livestock Show Rodeo in Jackson, MS. The Dixie National Livestock Show Rodeo is the largest East of the Mississippi River and voted by the cowboys as one of the top 5 rodeos in America.

The opening of the rodeo moved me to have a tear in my eye with pride.
The opening began with the Dodge video featuring Paul Harvey talking about the farmer (same one that was seen during the Super Bowl). At the end of the video, the announcer said our future in agriculture is in good hands with the FFA. The spot light then shown brightly on several FFA members standing in front of the arena entry gate. He spoke wonderfully of our FFA. You couldn’t buy such great publicity.

I called our FFA Executive Secretary, Gayle Fortenberry, to tell her how great I thought it was. They will do this each performance of the rodeo which started Thursday and goes through Wednesday. I hope the rodeo company and the announcer will continue this trough several of their rodeos this season. Please share this with fellow FFA and FFA Alumni.

Monte Ladner
Mississippi FFA Alumni Association

2012 Outstanding Achievement Award Recipient, Luther Wilkes

Mr. Luther Wilkes has been a part of my life for about nine years.  Since meeting him, he has become a friend, brother, and mentor.  Mr. Luther has been an encourager to me as I have become involved with FFA Alumni on the state and national levels.  He ALWAYS has had a smile, a pat on the back, and a kind word (often in the form of a joke) for me and everyone else.  When one meets him it doesn’t take long to learn what is important to him; his God, his family, his community, and FFA.

Mr. Luther is an inspiration to all who know him.  He has had the opportunity to give up and refused to do it.  You see, he has been electrocuted, been in a major vehicle accident, where he lost his left arm, had a major heart attack which the doctor said he could not survive, and other health issues.  He has never given up or lost the ability to smile and encourage others.  He is a fighter for all that is good in the world.

Mr. Luther and I have had great times together while serving on the Georgia FFA Alumni Council.  He really likes to tease the wait staff at the Huddle House.  All in all, Luther Wilkes is an all-round good guy.

Congratulations my friend,
Johnny Jones, GA

Listing of all award recipients can be found on the FFA Alumni website.

$5,000 SOY Scholarship Available must Apply by November 15

The 2013-2014 Secure Optimal Yield Scholarship is a $5,000 one-time scholarship award presented to a High School Senior who is plans to pursue Agriculture as a degree area of study at any accredited College or University next school year.  The scholarship is managed by the American Soybean Association and is made possible through a grant by BASF Corporation.  There are specific academic, agriculture leadership, and ASA membership requirements to apply.  An essay submission is also required.

Deadline to apply is November 15, 2012.  Final Selection will be made the first week of December.  The winner will be notified prior to an official announcement made in March 2013, during the annual Commodity Classic convention and trade show in Kissimmee, FL.    BASF sponsors the winner and one parent to attend Commodity Classic for two days to participate and receive special recognition at the ASA Awards Banquet.  See the attached link  for specific scholarship requirements.

For more information and to apply go to:

Meet Candidate Ron Lynch, Eastern Region

Growing up on a small farm in west-central Illinois, Ron Lynch’s first trip without his family was in 1969 as a freshman to the national FFA convention. As he walked the streets amidst the sea of blue, he entered the arena where the national FFA president’s gavel called the room to order, then asked something that changed Lynch’s life and placed him on the path that has given him the desire to serve as a member of the National FFA Alumni Council.

Lynch started his life-long FFA path as an agriculture teacher in a small Illinois town called Cissna Park. After a few years growing that program with the help of some outstanding young FFA members, great school support and the parents and communities’ willingness to work, Cissna Park become one of the top programs in the state. It was at that time that Lynch asked a handful of supporters for help to move the program to the next level. As a result, the Cissna Park FFA Alumni was established. At the 1990 state FFA convention, Cissna Park was recognized as Illinois’ top chapter, and it reached that honor two more times in addition to being recognized as a National Model of Innovation seven times.

Today, Lynch is a retired agriculture teacher, but continues to carry the same excitement for the FFA as he did in 1969. He understands the problems today’s teachers are facing and believes the Ag Ed family needs to do more to encourage students to look at becoming agricultural educators. Lynch believes great teachers are the key to sustaining FFA, agricultural education and agriculture. He is running for council to continue his quest to “Live to Serve.”

Ron Lynch – Illinois
Candidate for Eastern Region Representative

Richard Daniel, Candidate for Southern Region Representative, Wants FFA Opportunities to Grow and Thrive

National Convention is almost here and we will be together for four days of fellowship and the business of the FFA Alumni to make sure we are doing all we can to help FFA, agricultural science programs and ag education.  To do my part I am running for the Southern Region Representative position on the National Alumni Council and this is why.

My enthusiasm for FFA started with my own experience and the personal growth I gained by participating in the program, and it has grown to a deep passion as I’ve watched my three wonderful daughters become strong, independent leaders through their FFA endeavors.  This passion drives me to do what I can to ensure that FFA programs are available and thriving across the nation. We need to ensure that young people today, tomorrow and beyond have the same opportunities we’ve enjoyed in the past.  And I know first-hand, that the Alumni’s goal to have an alumni affiliate for every FFA Chapter is a key to achieving that.  I want to do my part to help make it so.

I’ve come to understand that the Alumni’s role is to not only help individual FFA programs, but to also advocate for agriculture and agricultural education.  I have been involved with Alumni for many years and find what we do extremely rewarding.  It has been my 10 years as president of our local Alumni and my more recent time as a regional representative of the North Carolina State Alumni that has proven to me what Alumni can do to support FFA, ag education and agriculture more broadly.  By joining the Alumni Council I can help share the importance of alumni as advocates.

Please introduce yourself when we are together at Convention.  I want to hear your alumni stories and learn from you.  I’m eager to be a part of the National Alumni Council to help make sure that FFA grows bigger and stronger for the next generation of agriculturalist, which include my grandchildren!

Richard Daniel
North Carolina FFA Alumni

Johnny Jones, Candidate for President-Elect, believes FFA Alumni creates Partnerships for Life

The National FFA Alumni, as most other organizations, is facing challenging times. We have to seek new avenues to achieve our short and long term goals. Our major goal is to support the FFA.

In my opinion, the way to do this is for the region representatives to become more involved with the states they represent. They need to communicate to the states the importance of supporting National FFA Alumni and where and how the funds they send are being spent. The states need to be aware of their individual importance to the organization as a whole.

The region reps are available to help individual states in many ways to increase their membership. They also lend aid in their enrichment by conducting seminars and other workshops. States need to know that they are encouraged to utilize the talents of the reps. These reps are ready and willing to visit all the states they are privileged to represent.

As the region reps and states become more comfortable and familiar with each other they will form lasting partnerships with young students and mature supporters. To me, this is FFA Alumni; partnerships that last for a lifetime.

Johnny Jones
Southern Region Representative
Lyons, GA

President-Elect Candidate, Jim McCray Believes Every FFA Chapter Needs an FFA Alumni Affiliate

There are two open positions for agriculture teachers in Illinois as of September 20.  Both jobs are being temporarily handled by retired teachers filling in until January when a new graduating class is available.  This is not an isolated problem in Illinois nor is this a one year glitch.  In 2013 there will be approximately 14 new teachers graduating, two of them filling the before mentioned positions, and the rest to fill all the positions opening due to retirements and other causes.  That’s NOT enough to fill the demand.  We must do a better job of recruiting new teachers and insuring the teachers we now have stay in the profession.

Every year new requirements are added to teachers to maintain accreditation; they are required to meet new evaluation benchmarks for local school boards, and at the same time run a quality ag program.  As they say “there are only so many hours in a day”.  With an engaged FFA Alumni working with every FFA program we can help that teacher put balance back into their life.  As we help chapters with fundraising, this allows more kids to be involved with more projects, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to succeed.   The need for an FFA Alumni Affiliate for every FFA chapter has never been greater.

But how do we get started?  On a local level look to your home chapter first and insure that everything is being done for your advisor and your students.  Do your surrounding schools have an active FFA Alumni affiliate; if not what can you do to help?   At the state level we need to be certain that we are doing all we can to help smooth the transition of student-teachers to full time teachers, by assuring the new teachers we are there to help not add work to their already heavy work-load.  Once again look to your neighbors, invite them to your meetings at the state level.  You will find the exchange of ideas will be equally rewarding.  And finally at the national we need to insure we are supplying everyone with the resources needed to succeed.

Jim McCray
Candidate for President-Elect
Cissna Park FFA Alumni, IL

Julie Tesch, Exec. Dir. National FFA Alumni, Advocating at the NASCAR Race

Driving along the Michigan countryside on an early August morning, I was surprised and excited to find the Michigan International Speedway in my site.  Promoting National FFA Alumni and the Farm American program brought me to southern Michigan to experience my first NASCAR race.  Furniture Row Racing is a proud supporter of agriculture and agricultural education, so I was cheering loudly for the #78 car driven by Regan Smith that day.

I was given a first-class experience as Farm American representatives took me behind the scenes to see the garages and the pit areas of NASCAR.  Meeting many Michigan farmers and discussing FFA and FFA Alumni was a highlight of the day.  I never thought that I would be in the garages of NASCAR talking about the importance of FFA.  This just goes to show that you never know where a passion for agriculture can take you!

Country music artist, Steve Azar, was also a guest of honor at the race singing the national anthem.  He is a great supporter of farming, ranching and the FFA organization.  Steve will be a special guest of the FFA Alumni at National Convention in October.

National FFA Alumni is looking forward to working with Steve Azar, Farm American and Furniture Row Racing in the future as we continue to promote the hard work and dedication of our American farmers and ranchers.

Thank you all for the great experience!
Julie Tesch
Executive Director
National FFA Alumni Association

IL FFA: Making Wishes Come True

Imagine if you were a little girl who received a surprise castle-themed playground. Wouldn’t that make all your wishes come true? It certainly made 4-year-old cancer survivor, Willamina Clayton’s, wish come true. The Make A Wish Foundation granted Willamina’s wish for a swing set with the help of the Northeast Vermillion FFA Chapter from IL.

The mission of the Make A Wish Foundation is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. When Willamina made her wish for a swing set, Make A Wish had nobody to build one for her. A member of the Make A Wish team had heard about the FFA Alumni and Campbell’s Soup Barn Restoration Project through coworker Eric Hasselbring, who helped with the two-year barn restoration project.  The Make A Wish team was so pleased with the willingness of FFA Alumni and FFA members to work that she thought they would be the perfect group to help grant Willamina’s wish. To move the project forward, Eric connected Make A Wish with Jim McCray, Eastern Region Representative on the National FFA Alumni Council.

McCray was eager to help and spread the word to get students involved. The woodworking class of the Northeast Vermillion FFA Chapter spent two weeks in class building the circular slide and the two towers (minus the roofs) for what would soon be Willamina’s new castle-like playground. The day Willamina’s wish was set up and built on-site, her mother took her to a relative’s house so she wouldn’t see her wish until it was complete. That day, the wonderful group of FFA Alumni members and FFA students worked from 8-5 to put together Willamina’s new playground. Soon, they would all get to see Willamina’s wish come true.

Willamina fell asleep in the car ride back to her house, so when she woke up, she was really surprised. Jim McCray described the moment Willamina saw her wish in real life,

“She was sleeping in the van so they pulled it up so that when she opened her eyes it was the first thing she would see.  All the work was worth that one moment.”

The Northeast Vermillion FFA Chapter and the IL FFA Alumni members involved truly showed how much of a difference community service can make. By simply offering their skills and some of their time, they changed the life of this little girl and provided hope and happiness for her family.

Kendall Walder, a sophomore FFA member of the Northeast Vermillion FFA Chapter at the time of the project said,

“I got to experience helping with the make a wish foundation by building a huge play set for a little girl with cancer. It was very cool to see a group of people come together to help a little girl. It also showed me how blessed I am to have such an easy life and not have to struggle through something like cancer. The moment when that little girl saw her play set was very special. It made me feel all my hard work had gone to something very awesome!”