September/October 2009 | Back to school

Washington Beat

Plan to Advocate!


Jay Jackman 
NAAE Executive Director

With a new school year now underway, there is no better time to make a plan to advocate for your local agricultural education program.  The very best way to advocate for agricultural education statewide and nationally is to advocate for your local program!  The value and vitality of agricultural education nationwide is a direct reflection of the worth and strength of local agricultural education programs.

What makes agricultural education programs worthwhile is not what happens at the NAAE office or at the U.S. Department of Education or at the National FFA Center.  Of course, these national entities contribute to the success of agricultural education … but what really makes agricultural education programs worthwhile is what you do at the local level – that’s where student learning takes place and that’s where students’ lives are changed positively every day.  As such, each agricultural educator has the responsibility to share the good news from the local program and to build positive relationships inside the local school and far beyond the walls of the local school … and that’s what advocacy is all about.

As you continue to develop the plan for your agricultural education program this year, consider adding an advocacy plan to your initiatives.  NAAE has recently developed a tool called the Personal Agricultural Education Advocacy Plan.  You can find it in the Advocacy Tools section of the NAAE website (  This tool will simply guide you through developing an advocacy plan for your local program, including: identifying your decision makers at the local, state, and national levels; deciding local events to which you wish to invite key advocates; town hall meetings (or other types of meetings) in which you and your students can participate; visits you and your students can make to the offices of decision makers; and other advocacy contacts to complete your plan.

While completing the Personal Agricultural Education Advocacy Plan, you’ll get other ideas to add to your plan.  Use this tool as a template and customize it to meet your local needs.  Completing the tool would be an excellent activity for your students, especially your FFA chapter officers or Public Relations committee.  This is a great exercise with which to teach planning to your students.

You can also use your local FFA alumni affiliate when completing the planning tool.  FFA alumni members are all about supporting the local agricultural education program.  Why not ask them to be your lead advocates for your program?!

If you have questions about the Personal Agricultural Education Advocacy Plan, please feel free to contact me at

The National FFA Commemorative Coin Act

The National FFA Commemorative Coin Act (U.S. Senate Bill #1553 and U.S. House of Representatives Bill #3464) will seek a U.S. minted commemorative coin honoring the 85th anniversary of the National FFA Organization in 2012.

FFA is working with key leaders in Congress to promote and gain co-sponsors of the bill.  In order for the bill to emerge from committee, FFA must list 67 Senate co-sponsors and 290 House co-sponsors.  Please contact your senators and congressional representatives and urge them to co-sponsor this bill.

If you would like to see FFA immortalized and honored on a U.S. coin, please let your legislators know by sending them a message using the NAAE Legislative Action Center.  Go to the NAAE website ( and enter your zip code in the Contact Congress dialog box.  Then click on “Issues and Legislation” and go The National FFA Commemorative Coin Act information under Current Action Alerts.