Draft a culture of inclusion

One of my biggest struggles and frustrations as an early career FFA advisor was the disconnect between underclassmen and the officer team, which resulted in less than ideal participation.

These upperclassmen officers were passionate about FFA, could identify innovative activities and would implement a POA with ease, but struggled to get underclassmen to attend the events, especially if they were outside the school day.

I felt like as the advisor, I was working harder than my leadership team at promoting the event and motivating freshmen and sophomore members to attend.

There was no CULTURE OF INCLUSION within the chapter.

 There was no relationship between seniors and freshmen, which made first year members feel intimidated to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.

My last five years of teaching, I changed this culture by implementing a FFA DRAFT with my officer team.

 To do this, I distributed our FFA membership list to our 11 officers and they DRAFTED a team, family, herd or whatever name you want to call these cohorts. They started with freshmen and made their way to seniors, rotating between each officer. Some officers chose students they knew from sports, 4H or a sibling of an upperclassmen, while others were more strategic and chose students who attended a lot of events the previous year.

For the rest of the year, these DRAFTED groups were who the officers met with at each meeting or event. They took attendance in these groups and were responsible for creating meaningful relationships with each one of them. They also were tasked with motivating their groups to attend as many events as possible. 

For my program, every FFA member was also a student in my courses. Therefore, I was able to give FFA a final grade and treat FFA as an intracurriculular organization. Students received this FFA grade by attending events which were all worth different point values. Students were required to obtain 250 points throughout the year.

The group with the most points at the end of the year banquet received a prize so there was even more incentive for the officers to motivate their drafted members to attend.

This FFA DRAFT and the FFA point system helped membership grow from less than 70 students when I arrived at Houston High School to over 120 when I transitioned out of the classroom. It also increased overall participation and investment into the program which resulted in our chapter being recognized as a Top 10 Models of Innovation and Models of Excellence Chapter in the nation three times, and the top chapter in Ohio three times.

Check out the FFA Points Log Template I used and good luck in implementing this tool into your FFA chapter!