By Caroline Weihl, National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Reporter
The emblem of the National FFA Organization is a well-known symbol inclusive of the values in the organization. This logo is famous from its most prominent location on the back of the official FFA jacket.
This year celebrates 80 years since the adoption of the jacket. With references during general sessions and in various displays, everyone is proud of the unique blue corduroy. The jacket is an iconic part of the FFA and many members cherish the chance to proudly wear that blue corduroy. However, some students don’t have the chance to own and wear a personalized jacket.
To provide opportunity for more members to wear their own jackets, the FFA is launching the Give Blue campaign in honor of the jacket’s anniversary at the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.
“The idea of the program is that we want to give jackets to a lot of the kids who may not be able to afford one on their own,” president and owner of Universal Lettering Mark Hoop said. “We like to be able to see that brand strong from year to year and I think this is going to be good for all parties involved.”
A starting fund of $25,000 has been raised from purchases of a book with images from the Dodge Ram commercial, “So God Made A Farmer.” Program funding is primarily generated from individual and corporate donations. With this money, FFA strives to give between 5,000 and 10,000 jackets in the first year.
“We really want to get kids into jackets because it makes such a difference in their life,” said National FFA Director of Merchandising Operations Lee Anne Shiller. “I was a former FFA member myself and although I was able to afford my jacket, I know what that opportunity means to a person.”
Students are eligible to apply beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The application includes an essay on what the jacket means to the student, activities resume and advisor confirmation form.
Members are excited that FFA is supporting the benevolent efforts to expand the sea of blue, most notably seen during national convention. Becca Lythgoe, senior and newly-elected president for her chapter in South Dakota, was excited to hear about this program.
“The blue jacket is a symbol of our organization and it just is really cool to see everyone here at convention because it unites us all,” Lythgoe said. “Everybody who wants to be involved in FFA and have a blue jacket should be able to because no matter what state we are from, we all share the same values and all have the same blue jacket.”
In addition to Give Blue, FFA has also developed a relationship with Carhartt to promote a casual jacket with the FFA emblem, featuring a classic and hooded style. The official jacket and casual jacket are promoted, “better together.”
For more information about the campaign or to make a donation, visit FFA.org/giveblue.
Caroline Weihl is a senior at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communications. Originally raised on a beef and grain farm in Bowling Green, Ohio, she is an alumna of Otsego FFA Chapter, a 2010 National FFA Band participant and 2011-12 state FFA officer. Find Caroline’s social media sites at about.me/CarolineWeihl.