They’re calling themselves “Parents of the Blue Jackets,” but it might be more appropriate for them to call themselves “friends,” since many who support the program (often former FFA members) don’t necessarily have children in the program. The group began organizing last month with the explicit goal of supporting Lovell High School’s FFA chapter and has already made great strides in that direction.
“I like supporting FFA because it helps a population of kids that sometimes aren’t involved in other activities,” said the group’s president, Maryanne Bischoff. “What I like about FFA is that it can help kids become great leaders, great speakers and even get scholarships. It can help them learn the skills to run a meeting because they learn parliamentary procedure. It teaches them a sense of pride in what they do and when they’re in their blue jackets people know who they are and what they stand for right away.”
The group is still working on its mission statement and bylaws and already has the wheels turning to obtain non-profit status. The group raised more than $5,000 at its first fundraiser, a golf tournament held July 20 at Foster Gulch Golf Course.
“We’re hoping to go to the national convention in Louisville, this year,” said FFA Advisor Wil Zollman. “The last time we were able to send kids was about five years ago.”
Bischoff said the parent group hopes that the funds they raise will help chapter members with the cost of airfare, cost of transportation from the airport to the convention center and accommodations to the National FFA Convention and other events that enhance the learning experience for chapter members. She said they have even discussed having a loan program that would help students who need financial support to raise an animal for the fair. The student would then sell the animal at the fair to pay back the loan.
“Mr. Zollman is already putting together a wish list for us of what he would also like to see to help his kids in the classroom,” said Bischoff.
Items like a scale to weigh pigs and sheep and improvements to the greenhouse used by students top that list and maybe even an ag barn someday, where students can work on their animal projects, practice showing animals and host contests.
“FFA is an inter-curricular program,” explained Zollman. “It’s not a club or an extracurricular activity. It’s not like playing basketball or football. Those are extracurricular activities. FFA is one third of the curriculum of an ag education program at the school.”
Bischoff said she thinks FFA empowers kids.
“It teaches kids to have confidence in themselves,” said Bischoff. “We hope that the help we give to the program will help motivate these kids and help them find something to grab on to that they can believe in. It teaches them to contribute to their community without expecting something back. If our group can help foster that, it would be great.”
The group will meet again on Aug. 6, at 6 p.m., at the Bischoff residence.
“Everyone is welcome,” said Bischoff. “This will be an organizational meeting, where we hope to develop our mission statement and our bylaws and also to come up with a protocol for how we will distribute funds.”
Elected officers of the support group include Maryanne Bischoff, president, Jodi Lynn Bassett, vice president, Marilyn Tillett, secretary, and Cindy Allred, treasurer.
For more information or directions to the next meeting, contact Bischoff at 272-0976.
by Patti Carpenter