Alabama FFA Alumni President Gary Kendrick of Pell City is shown with the Alabama FFA Alumni’s state winning basket at the 82nd National FFA Convention held in October 2009 at Indianapolis, Indiana. Because it was the overall winning basket, it was sold at the National FF Alumni’s live auction. According to the contest rules, all of the items had to fit inside the basket or, in this case, a cherry cabinet donated by the Wellborn Cabinet Company of Ashland. The “basket” contained donated items ranging from food to clothing to grandstand tickets to Talladega Superspeedway. The total retail value was approximately $10,640. Mr. and Mrs. Paul Hall of Mt. Orab, Ohio, purchased the “basket” for $2,750.
By Philip Paramore
Developing leadership, cooperation and citizenship for tomorrow’s agriculturists is the main goal of the National FFA Organization. In the 80-plus years of its existence, the FFA has supplemented agricultural instruction by making classroom instruction come to life through realistic application. The initial idea for the organization was cultivated after courses in vocational agriculture were established by the National Vocational Education Act in 1917. Virginia, in the early 1920s, started a Future Farmers Club for boys in agriculture classes. The idea spread throughout the country and the National Organization was formed in 1928 at Kansas City, Miss. National dues to the Future Farmers of America were set at 10 cents per member.
By 1934, the only state which had not chartered an association was Rhode Island. In the next 20 years or so, the organization began providing services to support its growing membership. The National FFA Foundation was created in 1944 to provide funds from business and industry to support new programs. In 2009, more than 15 million dollars was raised by the foundation. The next three decades would bring a host of new programs and changes, designed to keep pace with the growing membership and the changing needs of the agriculture industry.
The National FFA Alumni Association was formed in 1971, producing another arm of support to the organization. The Alabama FFA Alumni Association started in May 1972.
For some organizations, in order for a person to be an alumni member, they have to have been a part of or member of that organization in years past. This concept is not the case with the National and State Alumni Associations.
According to the National FFA website, "Agriculture teachers rely on FFA alumni members to help ease the outside commitments of teaching, bring more support to agricultural education programs and give teachers more freedom to do what they do best – teach kids!
"FFA relies on alumni members for student recruiting, scholarship money, aiding in camps, conferences, national FFA conventions and other personal development programs. The high level of commitment the FFA Alumni offers the National FFA Organization (and state organizations) and the communities in which they live helps make FFA students’ lives better."
After a few years of active membership, the Alabama FFA Alumni grew stagnant. In 2009, it was revived and officers were elected to lead the organization into a viable organization.
Serving as president is Gary Kendrick of Pell City; vice president is Shannon Peters of Montevallo; secretary is John Rogers of Piedmont; and treasurer is Arthur C. Waddell of Cherokee.
Every year at the National FFA Convention there is a National FFA Alumni Benefit Auction to assist FFA. Each state is asked to donate a "basket" which is then sold at a silent auction, with the exception of the state winning basket which is sold at a live auction.
The contest rules are simple. All items must fit securely into the basket and be wrapped with clear cellophane. The bottom of the basket cannot be larger than 3x4 feet. A list of the items included in the basket must be clearly visible. The basket can be of any creation.
Alabama’s Alumni Officers and members wanted to do something unique. Following the rules, a solid cherry cabinet donated by Steve Wellborn, Wellborn Cabinet Company of Ashland, valued at $4,899 was obtained using the 3x4 feet "basket" size. Inside the cabinet were items donated by 47 businesses or persons making the total retail value of the "basket" approximately $10,640. Included items were:
• Here at Home (autographed), art book by Jack C. Deloney. Donated by Jeff Helms, Director of Communications for Alabama Farmers Federation (Alfa). Retail Value ~ $50.
• Hampton Inn Motel of Pell City, one room for three nights. Donated by General Manager Chad Snead. Retail Value ~ $392.70
• 26 pounds of Pure Attraction Seed, two volumes of Whitetail News and one DVD on Producing Trophy Whitetails. Donated by the Whitetail Institute. Retail Value ~ $57.
• Tote bag, coaster, three lapel pins, six ink pens, small folding cooler, hat, two hitch covers, five pot holders, three rain gauges, two car tags and 50 sample bags of peanuts. Donated by the Alabama Peanut Commission. Retail Value ~ $50.
• 48-quart cooler, pair of Craftsman Gear Wrench Gloves and Craftsman Gear Wrench T-Shirt. Donated by Taylor Supply Company. Retail Value ~ $45.
• One-gallon of peanut brittle. Donated by Seven Winds Kitchen. Retail Value ~ $32.
• Box of regular tea bags, box of decaffeinated tea, bag of regular coffee and bag of decaffeinated coffee. Donated by Red Diamond Coffee and Tea Company. Retail Value ~ $18.
• Miniature cotton bale. Donated by the Alabama Cotton Commission. Retail Value ~ $5.
• One yellow mug. Donated by Alabama Wheat and Feed Grain Commission. Retail Value ~ $3.50.
• One catfish-shaped drink huggy. Donated by the Alabama Catfish Commission. Retail Value ~ $3.50
• Four key chains, a luggage ID tag and apron. Donated by the Alabama Pork Producers Commission. Retail Value ~ $9.50
• Cyclops Brute Electric Fence Charger (sized for 100 acres). Donated by Taylor Fence Inc. Retail Value ~ $300.
• Autographed book by Ray Scott. Donated by Ray Scott Enterprises. Retail Value ~ $50.
• One T-Shirt, two bottles of sauce and a gift certificate. Donated by Dreamland BBQ. Retail Value ~ $80.
• Horse grooming brush. Donated by the St. Clair County Farmers Federation – Alfa. Retail Value ~ $10.
• Assorted fishing lures and artificial worms, and one-day guided fishing trip on Lake Logan Martin in Central Alabama. Donated by Bucks Island Marine and Mr. David Hopkins. Retail Value ~ $450.
• Alabama FFA Flashlight. Donated by Alabama FFA Association. Retail Value ~ $25.
• T-Shirt. Donated by the Spring Garden High School FFA. Retail Value ~ $7.50
• T-Shirt. Donated by the Pell City High School FFA. Retail Value ~ $7.50
• Stuffed animal and Case XX Commemorative Trapper Yellow-Handled Pocket Knife Dedicated to Alabama FFA and Alabama 4-H (1 of 1,000). Donated by the Alabama Farmers Cooperative. Retail Value ~ $50.
• Two three-day general admission tickets for the first Indy Car Race at the Barbers Speedway in Leeds. Donated by Barbers Speedway. Retail Value ~ $170.
• Four two-day race packages including grandstand tickets, hospitality passes, hospitality parking and pit passes. Donated by the Talladega Superspeedway. Retail Value ~ $1,800.
• Three one-year magazine subscriptions. Donated by Buckmasters Inc. Retail Value ~ $69.85
• T-shirt, cap and four jars of honey. Donated by the Alabama Bee Keepers Association. Retail Value ~ $60.
• One half-gallon container of pecan halves. Donated by Whaley’s Pecan Company. Retail Value ~ $34.50
• Four bottles of signature bar-b-que sauce. Donated by W.D. Ricks Sauce Company. Retail Value ~ $20.
• One night hook-up and two stalls for RV camping. Donated by Seven Springs Lodge. Retail Value ~ $34.
• A Heritage to Treasure: A History of the Old Chickasaw Nation of West Colbert County, Alabama autographed by Freda S. Daily. Donated by Freda S. Daily. Retail Value ~ $50.
• 11 pounds of Farrier’s Formula, 11 pounds of Double Strength Feed Supplement, one bottle of hoof ointment and hoof pick tool. Donated by Life Data Inc. Retail Value ~ $180.45
• Four jars of homemade jelly. Retail Value ~ $12.
• Four jars of jelly. Donated by Southern Pride. Retail Value ~ $16
• Folding chair and umbrella. Donated by The City of Pelham. Retail Value ~ $30.
• Framed Auburn Print, Auburn key chain, framed Alabama Print, Alabama alarm clock and Alabama shot glass. Donated by Bill’s Custom Framing. Retail Value ~ $125.
• T-shirt. Donated by the City of Alabaster. Retail Value ~ $10.
• Polo shirt. Donated by the American Village in Montevallo. Retail Value ~ $25.
• Cap. Donated by Five Star Heating & Cooling. Retail Value ~ $10.
• Cap and license plate. Donated by ALFA Young Farmers. Retail Value ~ $20.
• Bottle of wine. Donated by Morgan Creek Vineyard, Harpersville. Retail Value ~ $12.
• Clarion Skincare products for women and Clinique Skin Care products. Donated by Victoria Patterson, Montevallo. Retail Value ~ $620.
• Bottle of Pilleteris’ Marinade. Donated by Pilleteris Inc. Retail Value ~ $5.
• Cap and t-shirt. Donated by the Birmingham Barons AA Baseball Team. Retail Value ~ $35.
• Eight tickets for the 2010 Regions Charity Golf Classic (Seniors Tour) in Birmingham. Retail Value ~ $160.
• Two tickets to Alabama Adventures Water Park in Birmingham. Donated by Alabama Adventures. Retail Value ~ $70.
• 2006 World Series Baseball autographed by Detroit Tigers Pitcher Todd Jones. Donated by Todd Jones. Retail Value ~ Priceless.
• Auburn University College of Agriculture cap, pair of gloves, golf balls, towel and two cup holders. Donated by the AU College of Agriculture. Retail Value ~ $60.
• Insulated mug, two glass coffee cups, two baseball caps, Lorus men’s wrist watch, mini Maglite, two keychains, two calculator pen sets and screwdriver. Donated by Praxair Co. in Pell City. Retail Value ~ $120.
• Basket of assorted gifts donated by Alabama A&M University. Retail Value ~ $350.
Alabama’s Alumni Association basket won the top state basket qualifying it to be sold at the live alumni auction during the National FFA Convention at Indianapolis, Indiana. Because Alabama had the best state basket, an FFA member will be eligible for a free trip to the Washington Leadership Conference in the summer of 2010. Mr. and Mrs. Paul Hall of Mt Orab, Ohio, purchased the basket for $2,750.
Alabama’s Alumni Association also had the highest percentage of membership growth in the nation at 300 percent, which includes 100 new members.
Philip Paramore is an Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education .