2016 Ag Champions Program

Since the average person is three generations removed from the farm, more and more people have questions about farming practices, where their food comes from and issues affecting agriculture. The constant access to news and information with media and the internet allows consumers to read about issues affecting farmers – many of them being myths. FFA students are educated on these issues but many don’t have the avenue to share with consumers why farmers and ranchers do what they do and how it affects their local communities.

The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska FFA are partnering on a program and contest for these FFA students called “Ag Champions”. The purpose of the Ag Champions program is to build up FFA students to become “agvocates” (agricultural advocates) in their communities and amongst their peers. Through this project, we want to engage FFA chapters by developing a lasting impact through direct community involvement, as well as encouraging grassroots agvocacy. Through this plan, FFA chapters will determine an issue in their community, the audience they want to reach and expand on how they would be on the offense and defend agriculture with their agvocacy plan.

As issues affecting agriculture appear too often, we are encouraging local FFA chapters to have a plan in place to defend agriculture, while also putting agriculture on the offense. Education is key to important issues and could dispel the misinformation that arises when the foundation and basic understanding of an issue is in place.

The Ag Champions program provides a toolbox of resources and is the platform for a contest. The top three winning chapters will receive a grant, based off of the budget in their agvocacy plan, to implement their plan. The Grand Champion winning chapter will have the opportunity to receive up to an additional $1,000 grant to use for their FFA program. While this contest only provides three winning grants, the goal of the Ag Champions program is to create agvocates in our communities and help put realistic plans in place that can be used by the FFA chapters and students in any situation.

The following guidelines will provide each Nebraska FFA chapter an opportunity to apply for the Ag Champions contest.

Contest Rules:

1. Each chapter can submit one plan. The plan may be put together by one class on behalf of the chapter, or from the full chapter.
a. The goal of the contest is for your FFA chapter to put together a plan that addresses an issue in your community and reach out to a specific audience in your community, through communication and education, while also having a strategy in place to defend agriculture if/when the need arises.
2. Chapters can use the enclosed application/worksheet (click here) to prepare their plan. There is a sample worksheet (click here) included for your reference. Please expand and thoroughly explain each answer.
3. Each plan has three parts: Defense, Offense and Overall Plan. Below are details, but refer to sample worksheet for more specifics:

Part 1: Defend
a. Determine an issue that is present in your community that is negative towards any facet of agriculture.
b. Determine the audience you want to reach pertaining to the issue you’ve identified.
c. Develop goals to defend agriculture to your selected audience. Include your objectives, materials needed, a public relations plan and follow-up.

Part 2: Offense—Educate/Communicate
d. For your offense plan, set goals for communicating to and educating your audience determined in Part 1 about an agricultural issue(s).
e. Write out your plan to show how you can reach your goals. Include details on the scope of impact, outcomes, and how you would utilize grant dollars to help carry out your agvocacy plan.

Part 3: Overall Plan
f. Budget. What dollar amount and types of resources will you need to put your agvocacy plan into place? (Don’t let the idea of a budget scare or deter you. Be realistic, yet think broadly when coming up with your plan and the dollar resources needed to make it successful.)
g. List long-term outcomes you would like to achieve through this agvocacy plan.
h. Include a cover letter with your plan to the Nebraska Corn Board sharing the scope of impact and objectives with your plan, as well as why it is an effective plan that should be chosen as the winning Ag Champion plan. (sample cover letter included in the sample worksheet)

4. Most important: BE CREATIVE! Think outside of the box for this plan. Use ideas such as videos, photos, prezi presentations, social media, mock-town hall meetings, school assemblies, town festivals, etc. No idea is wrong or too small.

Judging & Contest Prizes:

● The Nebraska Corn Board will judge the plans and the winners will be announced in the spring. Winning chapters will also be recognized at the 2016 State FFA Convention.

● The top three winning plans will be awarded the grant amount specified in their agvocacy plan budget, up to $1,000. The winning “Grand Champion” chapter will also be awarded the opportunity to receive up to an additional $1,000 grant to use for their FFA program.

Timeframe:

● September 2015
Applications will be available on the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska FFA websites.

● December 1, 2015 (deadline has been extended to December 21, 2015)
Plans due to the Nebraska Corn Board office or emailed to susan.zabel@nebraska.gov by 5:00 pm CST. If mailed, please send to:

Nebraska Corn Board
Ag Champions Program
301 Centennial Mall South
4th Floor PO Box 95107
Lincoln, NE 68509

● February 2016
Winners will be announced.

● April 6 – 9, 2016
Winners will be recognized at the 2016 Nebraska State FFA Convention.

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