By Abbey Nickel, National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Reporter
The Firestone Farm Tires company is known as ‘the leader in the field’ – but what some may not know is that they have also led the way into making the National FFA Foundation a success.
Ken Allen, current president of Firestone Farm Tires, is far from being a stranger in the world of agriculture. However, Allen is also becoming a familiar face within the National FFA Foundation as he also serves as the 2013 National FFA Foundation’s Sponsors’ Board chair.
Firestone Farm Tires is recognized as the primary driving force behind the establishment of the National FFA Foundation.
“Because of Firestone’s history with the foundation, we’ve been able to make a significant difference in the lives of our future leaders,” Allen said.
Along with Allen, six former sponsors’ board chairs made their way to Louisville, Ky., at the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo to reconnect with current sponsors and learn how the organization has been changing and growing.
Will Fett, stewardship manager of the National FFA Foundation, spoke highly of the support the foundation has received from all of the sponsors over the years, including the former sponsors’ board chairs.
“These individuals have had a huge impact on FFA and they have a genuine passion for agriculture. Their support has helped us in the past and our current sponsors are helping us out now in big ways. Being here and connecting with students and other sponsors helps their bottom line and it benefits the both of us in the long run,” Fett said.
The reunion of former sponsors’ board chairs has also had an impact on Allen.
“Having our former chairs come together to reconnect has been powerful for me to see because we know many people in our organization who share the same passion as we do. That passion has allowed us to do what we do and it will continue to do so,” Allen said.
Molly Ball, president of the National FFA Foundation, also said that the reunion was exciting to see and hopes that will create a snowball effect for future efforts.
“This is the first year we’ve had the opportunity to reconnect with them and have them come back and their involvement is extremely important to us. We need to continue to make more of an effort to connect with them because of their impact on FFA and agriculture as a whole,” Ball said
Allen is confident that the Firestone Farm Tire legacy will continue to lead the way for future efforts to reconnect both former sponsors’ boar chairs and sponsors for the National FFA Foundation.
“If it wasn’t for one man’s efforts back in the 1940’s, the National FFA Foundation wouldn’t be what it is. Reconnecting and reuniting these individuals is great for us and for their companies, and for the future of agriculture,” he said.
Abbey Nickel is a junior at the University of Findlay studying journalism. This year, she’s reporting on the convention and expo as part of the National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Crew.